Neuralink and Synchron Race to Change Movement Disorder Outcomes
Last updated: June 2022
Elon Musk’s latest business venture, Neuralink, has the potential to change the way medical professionals manage movement disorders. But Neuralink’s competitor, Synchron, is racing ahead with its first human trial of a brain implant, leaving Neuralink in the dust.1
This massive step marks a significant moment in history. Synchron is championing the first FDA-approved clinical trial for brain-computer technology in the United States. Making this even more dramatic, the previous president of Neuralink, Max Hodak, is investing in Synchron.2
Musk has stated on social media that Neuralink is still on track to begin human trials by the end of 2022. This is about 2 years later than the company anticipated. And this delay could be just enough to keep the company from coming out ahead of Synchron.
Neuralink versus Synchron
Both Neuralink and Synchron are developing brain-computer technology that could potentially aid in the management of Parkinson’s disease and other conditions. However, there are differences in their technology.
Neuralink is expected to work similarly to deep brain stimulation. It will rely on a set of electrodes that are implanted into the tissue of the skull and connected to a battery. The electrodes will then intercept or change neural activity in the brain as needed.3
Synchron relies on the Stentrode, which is a device that looks similar to a stent. This device is placed into a blood vessel near the part of the brain that is responsible for movement. It then uses electrodes to send electric currents to the brain when necessary. Depending on the type of injury that doctors are targeting, the Stentrode is implanted in different areas of the body.1,4
One significant way the Strentrode distinguishes itself from Neuralink is its ability to bypass brain surgery. This could potentially make the procedure much safer.1
Neuralink has much more financial backing than Synchron. But Synchron seems to be advancing through the red tape a little bit faster than Neuralink.
Changing chronic illness
In the United States alone, nearly 1 million people suffer from Parkinson’s disease. The development of brain-computer technology like Neuralink and Synchron could potentially help to reduce tremors and dyskinesia, and improve balance.5
Parkinson’s is a movement disorder that slowly changes the body’s mobility. Brain-computer technology could help to improve or change important connections in the brain to minimize disruptive changes to the body. Over 5 million American people face paralysis, which these devices may also impact.6
Even so, in many cases, clinical trials can take years to complete. The process to viability can be quite long. It could be another decade before brain-computer technology devices like these are household products.
While the strongest brain-computer companies appear to be Neuralink and Synchron at this time, there are additional companies that could become key players in the race to eradicate disease. Polaris Quantum Biotech, Rejoint, and Intelligencia.Ai., and a few other companies are in the same medical arena. They are all looking to use new technology to enhance the human experience.
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