The innovation of U.S. Precision Neural Sciences (founded in 2021) as a next-generation brain-computer interface (BCI) has been the talk of the town lately, featured on television and all over the science online magazine news.
The technology was invented by neurosurgeon Ben Rapoport, who was one of the founders of Elon Musk’s Neuralink, Inc. Earlier this year, investor funding reached a total of $53 million, and the company has received even more attention for the more than 24 patents it has been able to obtain. He hopes to make his first submission to the FDA by the end of this year. The BCI is intended to enable patients who have been paralyzed by accidents or intractable neurodegenerative diseases (such as ALS) to operate a keyboard using only their thoughts, or to communicate via voice messages.
Unlike previous BCI devices, the device is made of a thin film, reminiscent of Scotch tape. It consists of as many as 1024 microelectrodes, thinner than a human hair. Like other BCI’s, it does not require a craniotomy, does not require piercing the brain to implant the electrodes, and does not require shaving the patient’s hair. The advantage is that it is very minimally invasive, requiring only insertion through a narrow slit (cut) in the head and placement on the surface of the brain. In addition, the number of electrodes is hundreds of times greater than those used in conventional BCI, allowing for a greater amount of signal information and higher resolution, and it is reversible, meaning that it can be easily replaced with a new device after a number of years if the patient so desires. The technology is called The Layer 7 Cortical Interface. The human cerebrum is made up of six layers, with a tape covering the top layer, hence the name Layer 7.
Reported by Nobuko Sclough on Mar.15, 2023