A medical company founded by Elon Musk is being investigated for alleged animal welfare breaches after 1,500 animals died in four years.
Internal allegations from Neuralink employees claim hurried animal testing has resulted in unnecessary suffering and deaths.
According to records obtained by Reuters, 280 sheep, pigs, and monkeys have died as a result of tests since 2018.
Neuralink is working on a brain implant it hopes will restore movement to paralyzed patients as well as treat other neurological conditions.
Staff members have complained that Musk has increased pressure to speed up development, which has resulted in failed tests that need to be redone.
According to sources, 25 pigs were implanted with devices that were the wrong size in one case, an error that could have been avoided with more preparation.
Earlier this year, a Neuralink executive allegedly sent a news article to employees about Swiss researchers who developed an electrical implant that allowed a man to walk again.
He wrote: “In general, we are simply not moving fast enough. It is driving me nuts!”
Furthermore, according to sources, in an effort to urge workers to move more quickly, Musk allegedly told them on many occasions to pretend they were wearing bombs on their heads.
The absolute number of animals killed does not always mean Neuralink is breaking the law or using unethical research methods.
Numerous businesses routinely employ animals in research to promote human healthcare, and they are under financial pressure to launch medicines as soon as possible.
When tests are finished, the animals are usually put to death, frequently so that they can be dissected for study purposes.
However, current and former Neuralink personnel claim that there are more animal deaths than is necessary.
The Neuralink project, which has seen scientists create a tiny implant with more than 3,000 electrodes, attached to flexible threads about a tenth the size of a hair and capable of monitoring about 1,000 neurons, had been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval by the San Francisco-based company.
At the time of the company’s introduction, Elon Musk said they had three pigs, each of which had two implants the size of coins, and that they were “healthy, happy, and indistinguishable from a normal pig.”
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The validity of the data produced by studies has been questioned in light of the claimed problems presented by Neuralink’s testing; this could potentially postpone efforts to start human trials.
However, other employees who were questioned by sources claimed that the organization treated monkeys much better than other research facilities, allowing the creatures to roam freely in what has been called a “Monkey Disneyland.”
Musk reportedly said that while he detested using animals for research, he wanted to make sure they were “the happiest creatures” while they were alive, according to a former employee of Neuralink.
Reuters sent comment requests to Mr. Musk and other Neuralink officials, but they did not respond.
Source: Sky News