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15 Feb, 2022 17:25

Musk’s Neuralink confirms monkey deaths

Brain implant neurotech firm has nonetheless denied that it had subjected apes to “extreme suffering”
Musk’s Neuralink confirms monkey deaths

Neuralink, a biotech firm owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has admitted to killing eight monkeys during a trial of its brain chip technology, in a blog post published on Monday.

The firm defended its use of animals in research and dismissed allegations that it had subjected monkeys to “extreme suffering.” It added that “all novel medical devices and treatments” must be trialed on animals before it is ethically acceptable to trial on humans.

“At Neuralink, we are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible,” the firm stated. “The use of every animal was extensively planned and considered to balance scientific discovery with the ethical use of animals.”

The firm, however, admitted that eight animals had been euthanized during the trials. They said that two were killed at “planned end dates to gather important histological data,” while six concerningly had died as a result of surgical complications, device failures, or device-associated infections. 

“At Neuralink, we are never satisfied with the current standards for animal well-being and we will always push ourselves to do more for the animals that are contributing so much to humanity,” the blog concluded, adding that they look forward to the day when animals are no longer needed in testing.

Last week, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a complaint accusing Neuralink of failing to provide adequate animal care to the monkeys at the University of California’s Davis Primate Centre, citing nine violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The university has denied any wrongdoing.