DIY Biohackers Are Editing Genes in Garages and Kitchens

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Aaron Traywick, CEO of Ascendance Biomedical and a figure in the biohacking and transhumanist movements, was found dead this weekend in a flotation tank in Washington DC, according to Tristan Roberts. He was 28 years old. News2Share’s last sit-down interview with Traywick took place February 2nd. Although included as part of a livestream profiling a bio-hacking lab, the raw interview was previously unreleased. Biohacking is a form of science research that hopes to push medical technology without invoking academic, state, or big corporate actors. It tends to heavily emphasize independence and experimentation. Transhumanism is a movement that seeks to evolve the human species beyond its natural limits, primarily through technology.

“Floating” is meditation method where an individual places themselves into a sound-proof pod filled with salt water at body temperature, which gives the sensation of floating in empty space. The practice is meant to promote a state of deep meditation. “He was found face down,” Roberts explained. Other details were not immediately available. News2Share first covered Traywick’s work in October, when he provided a DIY HIV gene-editing substance to Tristan Roberts, who self-injected it. “Essentially one percent, and really even less than one percent, of persons currently with HIV, for reasons that are aren’t really clearly known, these persons developed a genetic immunity once they contracted the HIV,” explained Traywick. His mission, he said, is to share the one percent’s immunity “with the 99%.” Results in that experiment are currently inconclusive. The following February, Traywick publicly injected himself with a substance he co-created as a gene-editing cure and immunization against herpes. “The procedure itself is a simple one,” Traywick told News2Share.

“If my herpes goes away, and the vaccine remains detectable in the blood upon subsequent lab analysis, we know it works as a cure.” The Food and Drug Administration responded with a thinly-veiled swipe that, while avoiding specific mention of Traywick’s experiment, expressed concern about the safety of self-administered gene therapies and advised consumers to refrain from undergoing treatments not approved or studied “under appropriate regulatory oversight.” Production specialist Machiavelli Davis regarded the absence of a corporate or academic hierarchy as a strength, not a weakness.

“Working with a tight knit team of passionate friends is also a far better experience than just being brought together because of a corporate job,” Davis said, noting that each of the team’s members had prior experience with self-experimentation. “It’s disruptive toward anybody who economically benefits from people being dependant on you having to buy your way into health,” Traywick said of his hopes to dive into curing, rather than treating, diseases. He believed that insurance providers and government entities have set up incentives, “to keep the patient sick, but not sick enough that they’ll die, but also not healthy enough that they’re really living.”

“There is no incentive structure set up for cures,” he pointed out. “If you cure a disease, the government will not pay a company for the number of healthy years of life that have been given to that person.” “New incentive structures are coming into place, and those look pretty interesting, but at the same time, we’re not waiting around for that.”

 

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