Neuralink, the brain implant startup led by billionaire Elon Musk, is recruiting patients for clinical trials, a long-awaited step that brings the science-fiction-like technology closer to human reality.

in a blog postThe company said it is recruiting patients with quadriplegia due to spinal cord injury in the neck or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to participate in the trial. Neuralink plans to evaluate the safety and functionality of its tools that allow people to control external devices with their thoughts.

The initial goal, the company said in the post, “is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using only their thoughts.”

The news marks a much-anticipated moment for the startup that has sparked a wave of interest in the world of brain implants.

While Musk has discussed Neuralink’s lofty goals – such as helping people learn language or communicate ideas mentally – he has also consistently said that its first project will be to help improve brain injuries.

Several other companies working on similar technology have previously successfully embedded devices into the brain. Synchron Inc. has implanted its First device for U.S. patients Through blood vessels rather than brain surgery. Synchron inserts its device through a surgical incision at the base of the neck and then maneuvers the implant to its destination in the brain.

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave early approval to Neuralink’s trial and received an investigational device exemption, which allows medical device manufacturers to continue human trials. The company said it also received approval from the hospital where the first surgery would be performed, but did not name the hospital.

The road to the next set of trials and eventual widespread deployment is long. “This typically takes years,” Victor Krauthamer, a professor at George Washington University and former director of the FDA’s Division of Biomedical Physics, noted in May.

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