‘Bio­hack­er’ Tray­wick dead at 28 — known for self-in­ject­ing a DIY her­pes drug

Con­tro­ver­sial bio­hack­er Aaron Tray­wick was found dead on Sun­day in a spa room in Wash­ing­ton, DC, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple me­dia re­ports cit­ing the DC po­lice. He was 28.

Aaron Tray­wick

Tray­wick, the CEO of As­cen­dance Bio­med­ical, was known for his view that in­di­vid­u­als should be able to self-de­sign and self-ad­min­is­ter un­ap­proved treat­ments — like gene ther­a­py — with­out the re­quire­ment of a health­care pro­fes­sion­al. He gained wide pub­lic­i­ty in Feb­ru­ary when he in­ject­ed him­self with a DIY treat­ment that he hoped would cure his her­pes on­stage at a bio­hack­er con­fer­ence in Texas. The whole process was broad­cast live on Face­book.

Ac­cord­ing to News2Share, which first re­port­ed the news (and filmed Tray­wick in Feb­ru­ary), Tray­wick was found in a floata­tion tank — a sound­proof pod filled with body-tem­per­a­ture salt­wa­ter meant to pro­mote “sen­so­ry de­pri­va­tion” and “deep re­lax­ation.”

A death in­ves­ti­ga­tion is still on­go­ing, though law en­force­ment not­ed they have no ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing foul play at the mo­ment.

Last Oc­to­ber, Tray­wick at­tract­ed the at­ten­tion of the FDA by stag­ing a live demon­stra­tion of an untest­ed HIV treat­ment. Tris­tan Roberts, an HIV pa­tient, vol­un­teered to in­ject him­self with the pur­port­ed gene ther­a­py. Nei­ther of them had for­mal train­ing in med­i­cine or ge­net­ic en­gi­neer­ing. Short­ly there­after, with­out nam­ing names, the FDA is­sued a warn­ing against self-ad­min­is­tra­tion of gene ther­a­py prod­ucts, con­cerned about the safe­ty risks in­volved.

While he did not get the re­sults he want­ed (his vi­ral load rose in­stead of falling), Roberts pre­vi­ous­ly said he still be­lieved in the po­ten­tial of the ther­a­pies be­ing de­vel­oped.

“Aaron was a pas­sion­ate vi­sion­ary. He seem­ing­ly nev­er tired as he brought peo­ple to­geth­er to work on some of the most im­pos­ing chal­lenges fac­ing hu­man­i­ty,” Roberts said in a state­ment pro­vid­ed to Vice News. “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.”

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Gilead re­leas­es an­oth­er round of murky remde­sivir re­sults

A month after the NIH declared the first trial on remdesivir in Covid-19 a success, Gilead is out with new results on their antiviral. But although the study met one of its primary endpoints, the data are likely to only add to a growing debate over how effective the drug actually is.

In a Phase III trial, patients given a 5-day dose of remdesivir were 65% more likely to show “clinical improvement” compared to an arm given standard-of-care. The trial, though, gave little indication for whether the drug had an impact on key endpoints such as survival or time-to-recovery. And in a surprising twist, a 10-day dosing arm of remdesivir didn’t lead to a statistically significant improvement over standard of care.

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Novus Ther­a­peu­tics plunges deep in­to pen­ny stock ter­ri­to­ry af­ter failed ear tri­al

After a more than 15-year run, a California-based biotech is exploring options, including a sale, after its lead experimental therapy failed an exploratory mid-stage study in patients with middle ear infections characterized by a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum.

The company, initially called Tokai Pharmaceuticals but which subsequently changed its name to Novus Therapeutics in 2017, saw its shares more than halve on Monday after the drug — OP0201— did not pass muster as an adjunct therapy to oral antibiotics in infants and children aged 6 to 24 months with acute otitis media (OM).

Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner (AP Images)

Stephen Hahn: FDA will make some changes amid Covid-19 per­ma­nent

The FDA will look to permanently implement some of the processes and policies adopted in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said during a virtual briefing hosted by the Alliance for a Stronger FDA on Monday.

Hahn’s statements during the briefing closely mirrored statements he made in a pre-recorded video FDA uploaded to YouTube on Friday.

“As this pandemic has evolved, it was clear to all of us that some FDA processes needed to be adjusted to accommodate the urgency of the pandemic and I think the entire FDA team has now seen first-hand that we need to take a critical look at some of our processes and policies,” Hahn said.

Len Schleifer (left) and George Yancopoulos, Regeneron (Vimeo)

Eyes on he­mo­phil­ia prize, Re­gen­eron adds a $100M wa­ger on joint de­vel­op­ment cam­paign with In­tel­lia

When George Yancopoulos first signed up Intellia to be its CRISPR/Cas9 partner on gene editing projects 4 years ago, the upstart smartly ramped up its IPO at the same time. Today, Regeneron $REGN is coming back in, adding $100 million in an upfront fee and equity to significantly boot up a whole roster of new development projects.

And they’re highlighting some clinical hemophilia research plans in the process.

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Covid-19 roundup: Did in­sid­ers cash in on pos­i­tive news re­port about Gilead be­fore pub­li­ca­tion?

A series of bullish trades on Gilead options just before the release of a favorable news story is raising questions among regulatory experts, Reuters reported.

On April 16, just hours before STAT published anecdotes from a Chicago hospital that served as one of the clinical sites to test Gilead’s remdesivir in Covid-19 patients, the California-based company’s shares were trading at around $75. Four large blocks of options were purchased for about $1.5 million each, betting that the stock would rise beyond that to as much as $87.5 by mid-August.

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