'Biohacker' CEO Found Dead in Flotation Tank

Aaron Traywick injected himself with experimental treatment
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2018 3:07 AM CDT
Updated May 2, 2018 6:33 AM CDT
Traywick and colleagues were able to dodge FDA regulations by experimenting on themselves.   (ValentynVolkov/Getty Images)

(Newser) – A "biohacker" CEO who sought to cure diseases and prolong lives with experimental gene therapies has died at just 28. Aaron Traywick, CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, was found dead Sunday in a flotation tank in a Washington, DC, spa room, Live Science reports. Police say they are investigating the death but they haven't found anything to suggest foul play. Traywick, part of a movement to create new organisms and therapies outside of formal scientific and medical settings, was known for his stunts. In February, he injected himself with an experimental herpes treatment in front of a live audience. Last fall, he supplied volunteer Tristan Roberts with an untested gene-therapy treatment for HIV.

Traywick had no medical background and described himself as a "community organizer," not a scientist. His colleagues at Ascendance say they had lost touch with him in recent weeks amid a dispute over the direction of the biotech startup. The self-experimentation that Traywick and other biohackers engaged in was labeled risky to the point of insanity by some bioethicists, though associates describe him as a visionary. "While many in the biohacking scene disagreed with his methods, none of them doubted his intentions," Roberts tells Vice. "He sought nothing short of a revolution in biomedicine; the democratization of science, and the opening of the flood gates for global healing."

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