Neuralink accused of transporting brain implants covered in dangerous pathogens
Could an Elon Musk company be at the heart of a health scandal? Neuralink is said to have carried contaminated brain implants, including exposing humans to drug-resistant bacteria, as well as a potentially deadly herpesvirus. These allegations are made by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a medical group advocating for animal welfare in research, and are today the source of an investigation by the United States Department of Labor, indicates the site Ars-Technica.
A risk for men
The PCRM sent a letter and several documents to prove its accusations. In 2019, Neuralink employees reportedly transported brain implants previously removed from two monkeys that died from brain infections caused by drug-resistant Staphylococcus and Klebsiella bacteria. Corynebacterium ulcerans and herpesvirus 1 were also detected. These are all very dangerous pathogens for humans, which can cause brain damage and even death.
During their transport, these brain implants would not have been properly packaged and the personnel in charge of the operation would not have received the training legally necessary for this type of operation. To support its accusations, the PCRM relies on several emails sent by the University of California Davis to Neuralink employees, alerting them to the situation.
“Since the hardware components of the explanted neural device are not sealed and have not been disinfected before leaving the Primate Center, this poses a risk to anyone who may come into contact with the device. Just calling it ‘dangerous’ doesn’t take into account the risk of contracting herpes B”said an email relayed by the organization PCRM.
Neuralink at the heart of several scandals
Although Neuralink ended its partnership with the university in 2020, the advocacy organization for ethical research practices says Elon Musk’s company is still working with the neurosurgeon who oversaw the experiments, as well as with several researchers.
The investigation by the US administration is in addition to that carried out by the federal authorities on possible animal abuse. Management pressure on the researchers could have led to too rapid trials. In four years, Neuralink is also said to have killed 1500 animals, including 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys after various experiments.
Contacted by Ars-TechnicaNeuralink declined to comment.