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.
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.”
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