A well known bio-hacker has died. Aaron Traywick, CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, was a controversially known for testing experimental gene therapies on himself, much to the chagrin of his colleagues, who felt his daring crossed in recklessness. pic.twitter.com/CRafxBQaNF— ThreeForm (@ThreeForm) May 2, 2018
A biohacker, who injected himself with do-it-yourself herpes treatment in the leg, was found dead in Washington, D.C., reported BuzzFeed News.
Aaron Traywick’s body was discovered by a spa staff in Northwest D.C. His colleague, Tristan Roberts, said he was found in a sensory deprivation flotation tank.
An investigation is ongoing after his body was taken for an autopsy but the police do not suspect any criminal activity.
Traywick was a biohacker and a CEO of a small biotech startup, Ascendance Biomedical. His mission was to provide potentially life-altering treatments to patients all over the world but his methods were controversial to say the least, and his critics argued Traywick’s practices could put patients at risk.
Biohackers “hack” their own body with usually new DIY treatments in order to improve their own body or biology, hence the term.
Traywick previously made headlines in February when he injected himself with a non-tested and non-FDA approved, gene-altering herpes treatment prepared by his own company.
“I do what has to be done for the science to move forward and for other people to feel free enough to be able to seek interventions for themselves,” he told BuzzFeed News at the time.
The practice of injecting non-tested drugs was apparently nothing new to the company. Roberts, a few months before Traywick, injected himself with an unapproved HIV treatment.
Both the incidents were documented live on Facebook but many did not approve of the act. The company had not exactly explained what went into the making of the experimental treatment, making onlookers dubious.
Roberts said while many doubted his colleague, all he wanted was the “democratization of science.”
"He seemingly never tired as he brought people together to work on some of the most imposing challenges facing humanity," Roberts said. "While many in the biohacking scene disagreed with his methods, none of them doubted his intentions. He sought nothing short of a revolution in biomedicine; the democratization of science and the opening of the flood gates for global healing."
In February, a little after Traywick injected himself, Gizmodo published an article, claiming fellow biohackers were upset with Traywick’s “false claims and theatrics.”
The Ascendance CEO later sued Gizmodo and a rival biohacker, Josiah Zayner, for defamation.
Zayner had called out Traywick for making unsubstantial treatment claims, potentially putting life at risks. The lawsuit was later dismissed.
"Usually, most biohackers are considered pretty crazy and very controversial, but he was the most controversial of the biohackers. He just wanted to get stuff out there; he didn't care about the consequences to him or sometimes other people. That could be reckless, or it could be good, depending on how it ended up,” Zayner told BuzzFeed News after Traywick was found dead.
Although, Zayner had gotten into several arguments about his treatment methods with Traywick, he also said the Ascendance boss worked hard in developing an awareness and conversation about patients’ access to potential life saving treatments.
“The first person who rode an airplane or a rocket or did something crazy — like, there’s a place for those people," Zayner said. "I hope people don’t view Aaron and his life as a negative, because it did contribute and it did inspire people despite all the controversy.”