Elon Musk's brain-implant company Neuralink has been accused of moving hazardous pathogens into the body of animals, following which, an animal welfare organisation said that it plans to ask a United States government agency to investigate the firm's doings.
The Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, claims to have obtained emails and other documents that suggest unsafe packaging and movement of implants removed from the brains of monkeys.
These implants may have carried infectious diseases in violation of federal law, PCRM said. The letter further cited that the records it obtained showed instances of pathogens, such as antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus and herpes B virus. They may have been transported without proper containment measures.
PCRM's letter said pathogens were carried on removed implants from monkeys after improper sanitisation and packaging. The group said those pathogens could cause serious health issues in infected humans, such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and severe brain damage, among other problems.
"The company's documented track record of sloppy, unsafe laboratory practices compel DOT to investigate and levy appropriate fines," PCRM said in the letter.
What does it mean for Elon Musk's Neuralink?
PCRM's letter adds to the scrutiny facing Neuralink, which is developing a brain implant. This brain implant, the company claims, will help paralysed people walk again and cure other neurological ailments.
In December, Reuters reported that Neuralink has been under a federal investigation over potential animal welfare violations and that some of its staff made internal complaints about experiments being rushed, causing needless suffering and deaths. Elon Musk in December 2022 said that the Neuralink device is ready for humans.
"So timing is a function of working through the FDA approval process," Musk had said.