Controversial biotech startup CEO is found dead in a flotation tank

Biotech startup CEO, 28, who courted controversy by injecting HIMSELF with his company’s herpes drug to speed up FDA approval, is found dead in a sensory deprivation tank in a DC spa

  • Aaron Traywick, 28, was found face down on Sunday in a Washington DC sensory deprivation tank
  • Police said an autopsy was being conducted on Traywick’s body and at this stage they had no evidence to suggest foul play
  • Traywick was the CEO of the biotech startup Ascendance Biomedical
  • He rose to prominence due to his willingness to experiment on himself
  • Traywick injected himself with a herpes treatment in February while on stage at biohacker conference in Austin

The controversial founder of a biotech startup who once injected himself with a never-before-tested herpes treatment has been found dead in a flotation tank.

Aaron Traywick, 28, was found face down on Sunday morning in the sensory deprivation tank inside a Washington DC spa room.

Police, who are still investigating his death, said an autopsy was being conducted on Traywick’s body and at this stage they had no evidence to suggest foul play.

Traywick was the CEO of the controversial biotech startup Ascendance Biomedical.

Aaron Traywick, the 28-year-old CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, was found face down on Sunday morning in the sensory deprivation tank inside a Washington DC spa room

His colleague Tristan Roberts said staff at the floating spa had described him as being ‘sluggish’ before they found him face down. 

The spa where he was found uses a form of meditation flotation therapy, which involves a person lying in a shallow, sensory-free pool that is heated at body temperature and filled with Epsom salt.

The Epsom salt is used to make sure people stay afloat. 

Traywick and his startup rose to prominence mostly due to their willingness to experiment on themselves in the hope of speeding up the process of getting medical treatments to patients.

He injected himself with a herpes treatment in February while on stage at biohacker conference in Austin, Texas. 

Traywick, who had no medical background, had co-created the gene-altering herpes treatment he used on himself and it was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Traywick made headlines when he injected himself with a herpes treatment (pictured above) in February while on stage at biohacker conference in Austin, Texas

He also provided his colleague Tristan Roberts with a HIV gene-editing substance to self-inject a few months earlier. 

Both instances were filmed on Facebook Live. 

Roberts said while many in the biohacking industry disagreed with Traywick’s methods, none of them ever doubted his intentions. 

He added that Traywick sought nothing short of a biomedicine revolution.   

Andreas Stuermer, who worked with Traywick at Ascendance Biomedical, told VICE News that the CEO had ‘lost touch’ with colleagues in the past month.

He added that there had been disagreements about the company’s direction. 

‘We all lost touch with him. It was radio silence. It was more than four weeks ago,’ he said.

‘The future is difficult to predict. He was willing to go where lots of people were afraid to go. I don’t have the perfect answer to this, but stuff will go on.’ 

Police, who are still investigating his death, said an autopsy was being conducted on Traywick’s body and at this stage they had no evidence to suggest foul play

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