Australian ‘Stentrode’ Miles Ahead Of Neuralink

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is perhaps the best-known name in the neurotechnology space for developing implantable brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to help individuals with neurological conditions or traumatic injuries.

For those unaware, a BCI is a system that analyses and deciphers brain signals and translates them into commands that are relayed to an external device to carry out the desired action.

In January 2024, Neuralink successfully implanted a wireless brain chip in a human for the first time. According to Musk, the Neuralink brain chip implant has produced positive results, with the patient making a full recovery and now able to control a computer mouse using thought.

While Neuralink’s method involves open brain surgery to surgically implant a chip with ultra-thin wires in a patient’s skull, there are a few promising BCI-focused projects being developed in Australia that don’t involve open brain surgery.

One such company is Synchron, a technology company that was spun out of the University of Melbourne, has come up with a tiny mesh, essentially a stent, that can be put inside of patient’s skull without the need for open brain surgery, reports The Guardian.

The mesh called “Stentrode” is implanted into a blood vessel in the brain using a catheter. The catheter then picks up neural signals from the brain, enabling patients to access the Internet. Even patients with severe paralysis can use their thoughts to perform everyday functions, such as chatting, shopping online, and sending emails, hands-free.

Synchron has successfully implanted the mesh in a number of patients and is supervising them, including one in Australia.

According to Dr Christina Maher at Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre, Synchron’s technology is “miles ahead” of Elon Musk’s, as it is more sophisticated and safer because it does not require open brain surgery, as told to The Guardian Australia. The Synchron researchers have also published more than 25 articles, she added.

“With Neuralink, we don’t know much about it. My understanding is that a big priority for them is to test the efficacy and safety of their surgical robots … so they’re a lot more about the robotic side of things, which makes sense from a commercial perspective,” Maher said.

Despite the hype, excitement, and promise surrounding neurotechnology, concerns about who will be able to access the beneficial technologies and how they will be safeguarded are looming large. Hacking will also remain a risk if devices are connected to the internet, and data is a major issue.

“While [BCI companies] are subject to the same data privacy laws … the difference is in a lot of people’s minds is that brain data is quite private, it’s your private thoughts,” Maher says.

“The big picture here is that once we start recording a lot of brain data, there’ll be an absolute megaton of data out there.”

Kavita Iyer
Kavita Iyer
An individual, optimist, homemaker, foodie, a die hard cricket fan and most importantly one who believes in Being Human!!!


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