Synchron announced earlier this year that it had implanted its brain-computer interface in the first paralyzed patient in the United States and raised $75 million to take its mind-reading technology to the next level.
The Series C financing, led by ARCH Venture Partners, also attracted investment from Bill Gates’ personal investment fund Gates Frontier and Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions.
They were joined by new backers Reliance Digital Health Limited, Greenoaks, Alumni Ventures, Moore Strategic Ventures and Project X, and returning Synchron investors Khosla Ventures, NeuroTechnology Investors, METIS, Forepont Capital Partners, ID8 Investments, Shanda Group and University Melbourne.
Synchron raised $40 million last year for its goal of connecting tiny electrodes to the brain by passing them through the body’s blood vessels without drilling into the skull. The company hopes the implants could one day restore communication between paralyzed patients and even help them send text messages, email or shop online.
“The problem of hunger is much bigger than people realize,” said Synchron founder and CEO Tom Oxley in a press release. “100 million people worldwide have upper limb impairment.”
In the latest round, Synchron’s lifetime fundraising is $145 million, with proceeds earmarked for pioneering new clinical trials and development of the company’s technology as a platform product for paralysis and other uses – such as a possible way to treat epilepsy or a way to map . epilepsy brain after traumatic injury.
The New York-based company began the trial with its first US patient last June, following earlier first-in-human trials and early feasibility studies in Australia.
The US study – where stent rods are placed on the surface of the motor cortex of the brain via the jugular vein without open brain surgery – aims to find out if the device can help people carry out everyday tasks using wireless signals that enable the use of the hands . . . -free note and click to text or schedule telehealth appointments.
At the same time, work continues on the brain-computer interface, led by another member of the five richest men in the world, Elon Musk. His Neuralink now claims it is six months away from starting its human clinical trials, although the company once set a target of late 2020 as well.
Neuralink’s technology involves removing a small round bone and replacing it with a chip connected to brain tissue with flexible, filament-like electrodes – described by Musk as “a Fitbit for your skull” – and the head of Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX. said earlier this month that one day he will be allowed to plant himself.
But before Neuralink starts recruiting people, it faces a federal investigation into its animal testing after reports that about 1,500 animals, including sheep, monkeys and pigs, died under the company’s care.
A Reuters report identified four experiments involving 86 pigs and two monkeys that were caused by human error – one that reported 25 pigs were implanted with the wrong size device and the experiment had to be repeated with 36 sheep, after which all the animals involved were killed.