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Monday, July 2, 2018

What Does an Infamous Biohacker’s Death Mean for the Future of DIY Science?

Kristen Brown
The Atlantic
Originally posted May 5, 2018

Here are two excerpts:

At just 28, Traywick was among the most infamous figures in the world of biohacking—the grandiose CEO of a tiny company called Ascendance Biomedical whose goal was to develop and test new gene therapies without the expense and rigor of clinical trials or the oversight of the FDA. Traywick wanted to cure cancer, herpes, HIV, and even aging, and he wanted to do it without having to deal with the rules and safety precautions of regulators and industry standards.

“There are breakthroughs in the world that we can actually bring to market in a way that wouldn’t require us to butt up against the FDA’s walls, but instead walk around them,” Traywick told me the first time I met him in person, during a biotech conference in San Francisco last January.

To “walk around” regulators, Ascendance and other biohackers typically rely on testing products on themselves. Self-experimentation, although strongly discouraged by agencies like the FDA, makes it difficult for regulators to intervene. The rules that govern drug development simply aren’t written to oversee what an individual might do to themselves.


The biggest shame, said Zayner, is that we’ll never get the chance to see how Traywick might have matured once he’d been in the biohacking sphere a little longer.

Whatever their opinion of Traywick, everyone who knew him agreed that he was motivated by an extreme desire to make drugs more widely available for those who need them.

The information is here.