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Nesos Brain Hack

Tech Startup Nesos Raises Millions to Fund Research on ‘Hacking’ the Brain

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Dec. 10 2020, Updated 1:45 p.m. ET

Can you reprogram your brain into fighting the same diseases it has created within the body? Tech startup Nesos thinks the answer to that question is yes. In competition with Elon Musk‘s startup Neuralink, Nesos is racing to bring to market a technology that can be used to reprogram the brain to fight disease. 

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The Tech Behind ‘Hacking’ The Brain

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Although it sounds like something from the far-distant future, Nesos isn’t the only company eyeing this kind of technology to advance health solutions.

In October, tech titan Elon Musk announced a collaboration with biotech startup Neuralink. The source of the collaboration is a chip intended to be inserted into a human brain. The chip would ostensibly be, first and foremost, a health solution. Musk hopes that the chip can stimulate parts of the brain, and suppress others, in order to control disease progression and symptoms. The chip is a super-dense electrode technology already used in other applications to help those with spinal cord injuries and other devastating neurological conditions. Neuralink has already implanted the prototype chip into the brain of a pig – a pig named Gertrude.

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However, implanted chips come with a bevy of problems. Namely, corrosion. The brain is a moist place, and the delicate metals needed to allow electrical conductivity in sensitive parts of the brain are subject to corrosion. Replacing them or repairing them would also prove challenging, since they would be embedded directly in or on the brain. 

With applications beyond health solutions, a successful Neuralink chip could also enhance natural human abilities or provide individualized conveniences. We could zoom in with our own eyes, keep a literal running tally of things in our brain, or use a thought to control objects around us. But Neuralink isn’t likely to be ready for the public any time soon. Both Musk and the tech company have avoided promising a timeline, so it is likely to be many years before people can pop a chip in and think their way to the grocery store.

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Nesos May Have a More Immediate Solution

Nueralink

Although biotech startup Nesos is looking to solve the same health issues as Neuralink, they may have found a way to get the technology in the hands of consumers sooner – and more safely. The company announced that is has raised $16.5 million to further it’s research. Nesos tech, rather than being an implantable chip, resembles a pair of wireless earbuds, and would use an electrical field to “hack” and redirect or reprogram the brain. 

Because the technology doesn’t require implantation, it’s going to be a much easier sell when it comes times for human trials. Reuters spoke with Nesos’ Chief Executive Officer Konstantinos Alataris about the project. 

“‘We’re doing something similar (to Neuralink’s device) and also different. We’re trying to change the system, we’re not trying to read and write the system. The major difference is that we’re trying to do it non-invasively,’ Alataris told Reuters.”

The company already has clinical results showing a moderate improvement in Rheumatoid Arthritis progression, and currently have tech under research that could provide solutions for neurological and psychological conditions. 

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More Than A Cool Gadget

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Although it is unarguably cool to imagine being able to control technology with your thoughts or merge your brain seamlessly with computer functions, the tech Neuralink and Nesos is working on would be life-saving for many. Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis could be essentially cured – with a few tweaks of a small device. 

There is no timeline being discussed for Nesos’ devices yet either, but the nature of the tech makes it easier to get to human trials than an implantable chip. While Neuralink could be as far as a decade off, Nesos could have their tech in the hands of doctors – and potentially, lay consumers – in less time. 

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