A biohacker took off his pants and injected his thigh with an experimental, do-it-yourself herpes treatment to prove that the medication is safe.
Aaron Traywick took to the stage at BdyHax, a biohacking and “transhumanism” conference in Austin, Texas, to talk about a never-before-tested, gene-altering herpes treatment, BuzzFeed News reports. The medicine was made by Traywick’s own self-funded biotech startup, Ascendance Biomedical.
Traywick, who also serves as CEO of the company, said in the video that was broadcast via Facebook Live, that his goal is to get potentially life-saving treatments out of labs and to consumers faster than pharmaceutical companies can. By turning himself into a guinea pig in public, he said that he is encouraging transparency in science and medical research. Traywick caught herpes from a partner five years ago.
I do what has to be done for the science to move forward, and for other people to feel free enough to be able to seek interventions for themselves.
Traywick drew similarities between him and Jonas Salk, who famously created the first effective polio vaccine, and Louis Pasteur, father of pasteurizing bacteria, saying, “I’m a biohacker in the Salk or Pasteurian sense.”
However, critics have been quick to point out that Ascendance has revealed little on the science of its supposed herpes treatment, which has not also been tested on animals. Since other gene therapies have taken decades to develop, Traywick’s treatment has raised many eyebrows.
Sam Sternberg, an assistant professor in biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia University, said, “To me, it’s just fanciful thinking.”
This is not a first for the company. In October, Tristan Roberts, an employee, injected himself with an experimental HIV treatment from the company, streaming it on Facebook Live, as well.
One month later, the US Food and Drug Administration released a statement condemning DIY gene therapies. It said, “The sale of these products is against the law. FDA is concerned about the safety risks involved.” The agency also warned that human clinical trials for gene therapies have to be FDA-registered.