December 19, 1989|
April 29, 2018 (aged 28)|
|Education||Stanhope Elmore High School|
|Alma mater||University of Montevallo|
|Occupation||Life extension Activist and former CEO of Ascendance Biomedical|
Aaron Traywick (December 19, 1989 – April 29, 2018) was an American life extension activist in the transhumanism and biohacking communities and former founding CEO of Ascendance Biomedical. He sought to develop gene therapies to make inexpensive treatments available for incurable conditions such as AIDS and the herpes simplex virus. His lack of any medical training and his unconventional methods—such as broadcasting an associate injecting himself with an “untested experimental gene therapy”, then later doing the same to himself in an onstage public demonstration—drew widespread criticism.
He was found dead under unexplained circumstances in April 2018.
Aaron Traywick was a resident of Elmore, Alabama, and a graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School. He graduated from the University of Montevallo in Alabama with a degree in interdisciplinary studies; he held no background in the sciences or formal training in clinical medicine.
In 2016 he worked to advocate investment in radical approaches towards anti-aging at the Global Healthspan Policy Institute. In 2017 he founded Ascendance Biomedical in Washington, D.C. with the mission to “make cutting edge biomedical technologies available for everyone”.
Traywick's self-administered DIY homemade gene therapies received substantial media attention. In October 2017, Ascendance Biomedical shared a live broadcast of Traywick's associate Tristan Roberts injecting himself with an “untested experimental gene therapy” for HIV over Facebook's live-streaming service.During a presentation at the February 2018 BioHacking Con in Austin, Texas, Traywick injected himself with something he referred to at the time as a “research compound”. In a later conversation with BBC reporters, he spoke of it as a “treatment” for Herpes Virus, a term with a specific meaning subject to FDA regulations. Shortly after the event, the FDA issued a statement on the inherent dangers of this approach to untested gene editing, without mentioning the company by name:
The FDA is aware that gene therapy products intended for self-administration and “do it yourself” kits to produce gene therapies for self-administration are being made available to the public. The sale of these products is against the law. FDA is concerned about the safety risks involved. Consumers are cautioned to make sure that any gene therapy they are considering has either been approved by FDA or is being studied under appropriate regulatory oversight.— US Food and Drug Administration
At the time of his death, Traywick was planning a CRISPR gene therapy trial for the treatment of lung cancer in Tijuana, Mexico, and served as managing director for Inovium Rejuvenation, which was conducting pre-enrollment for FDA-approved trials in several US locations to reverse menopause, rejuvenate ovaries, restore fertility, and bring hormone levels back in line with those found in youth.
Traywick was found unconscious in a sensory deprivation isolation tank, or “float pod”, at Soulex Float Spa in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2018. A spa spokesperson informed reporters that the spa's co-owner arrived twenty minutes after Traywick's float session was scheduled to end, and asked why someone was still in the float room. Upon further investigation, it was found that the door to Traywick's room was ajar, though clients usually float in the nude and the door should have been locked. The room was dark, though its automatic lights should have been activated when the tank's lid was opened. Traywick was discovered in the tank, which had automatically drained by that point. Emergency responders arrived within four minutes of the spa's 911 call.
Traywick’s body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy. A spokesperson for the spa told reporters that DC police twice told her they found drug paraphernalia among Traywick's belongings; DC police did not confirm this point. Toxicology reports were said to be expected six to ten weeks following autopsy.
An autopsy report provided to Bloomberg News on June 28 by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner showed that he accidentally drowned with the drug ketamine in his system. Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, is sometimes used as a recreational drug.
- "Aaron Traywick - Inovium Rejuvenation". Inovium Rejuvenation. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "Aaron J Traywick, 28, Boulder, CO | MyLife.com Background Profile". www.MyLife.com. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
- Brown, Kristen V. (2018-02-12). "CEO Who Tested DIY Herpes Treatment Locks Himself in Lab as Fellow Biohackers Abandon Him". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
Ascendance says it is working to cure cancer, herpes, HIV, and aging. In October 2017, the company encouraged Roberts to inject himself with an untested gene therapy that the company claimed was capable of curing his HIV. That test was live-streamed on Facebook. In an early February 2018 biohacking conference in Texas in which Traywick injected himself on-stage, Traywick claimed the company may have created a vaccine and cure for herpes. This attracted much ire from the biohacking community.
- Mullin, Emily. "A biotech CEO explains why he injected himself with a DIY herpes treatment on Facebook Live". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- Zhang, Sarah. "A Biohacker Regrets Publicly Injecting Himself With CRISPR". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "Mr. Aaron James Traywick: Obituary & Service Information". Brookside Funeral Home | Memorial Services. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
- "DC Spa Confirms Controversial CEO Aaron Traywick Died on Its Premises | Washingtonian". Washingtonian. 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
- Jan. 25, 2015: New Thinktank to Promote Research, Innovation for Treatment of Underlying Causes of Aging-Related Disease
- "Biohackers Injecting Themselves on the Internet with Homemade Drugs is a Thing | American Council on Science and Health". www.acsh.org. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- Lee, Dave (2018-02-08). "Bodyhackers: Bold, inspiring and terrifying". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- Lussenhop, Jessica (2017-11-21). "Why I injected myself with an untested gene therapy". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "People Are Treating Themselves With DIY Gene Therapies and the Government Is Getting Worried". Popular Mechanics. 2018-02-08. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "A biohacker injected himself with a DIY herpes treatment in front of a live audience". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "Surprise! It's a bad idea to hack your body, says prominent biohacker". Futurism. 2018-02-22. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "Biohacker Injects Himself With Untested Experimental Herpes Therapy On Facebook Live". IFLScience. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
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- "BioEdge: Biohacking: the future of the biosciences?". BioEdge. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "r/Transhuman - The "Future Grind" podcast has an interview with Aaron Traywick, the CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, who injected himself with an experimental herpes treatment while on stage at the BDYHAX human augmentation conference in Austin". reddit. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- "The Future Grind Podcast: Science | Technology | Business | Futurism: Ep. 15 - Aaron Traywick of Ascendance Biomedical". futuregrind.libsyn.com. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
- Zayner, Josiah (2 Feb 2018). "FDA Crackdown on Aaron Traywick Coming Soon?". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
Aaron Traywick and Ascendance Biomedical are running Facebook ads and promoting another live gene therapy injection with claims it's a cure for herpes. Wondering how long till FDA cracks down on themーany bets?
- Lussenhop, Jessica (2017-11-21). "Why I injected myself with an untested gene therapy". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
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- FDA, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "FDA Statement on Cellular and Gene Therapy Products: Information About Self-Administration of Gene Therapy". FDA.gov. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
- "CRISPR Rejuvenation". crisprrejuvenation.com. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
- Mullin, Emily. "Before he died, this biohacker was planning a CRISPR trial in Mexico". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
- "Aaron Traywick: Inovium Rejuvenation". Inovium Rejuvenation. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
- "Aaron Traywick - Inovium Rejuvenation". Inovium Rejuvenation. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
- "A New Anti-Aging Technique Just Made It to Clinical Trials". Futurism. 2017-01-15. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
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- "Transhuman: A Documentary". Indiegogo. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
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- "Biohacker Aaron Traywick found dead in a spa". BBC. 2 May 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- "Biohacker Found Dead in Sensory Deprivation Tank at DC Spa". NBC4 Washington. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
- Hermann, Peter (2018-05-02). "Biotech engineer found dead in sensory deprivation tank in D.C." Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
- "Police Reportedly Found Drug Paraphernalia Among Aaron Traywick's Belongings". Washingtonian. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
- "Police Reportedly Found Drug Paraphernalia Among Aaron Traywick's Belongings". Washingtonian. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
- "It Wasn't Biohacking That Killed the Biohacker: He Drowned". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- "U.S. Transhumanist Party Official Statement on the Death of Aaron Traywick – U.S. Transhumanist Party – Official Website". transhumanist-party.org. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
- "Biohacker, CEO of Ascendence Biomedical Aaron Traywick Found Dead in DC | News2Share". news2share.com. Retrieved 2018-05-01.