On the morning of 29 April, 2018 staff at the Soulex spa in Washington DC discovered the lifeless body of one of its clients lying face down in a sensory deprivation tank. The body was that of 28-year-old Aaron Traywick, who less than three months earlier had injected himself live on stage at an event in Austin, Texas, with an untested gene therapy that he claimed could cure herpes.
The 28-year-old was chief executive of Ascendance Biomedical. He had skirted the law by self-medicating as well as encouraging others to do likewise.
Traywick had claimed his biohacking company had developed a DIY "research compound" that could cure HIV, Aids and herpes.
Stories soon spread about the discovery of Traywick’s body, with some inferring a potential link between the DIY herpes treatment and his untimely death. But those who knew the young entrepreneur and were familiar with the work he did suspected something much more sinister.
Traywick was part of a fringe but steadily growing community known as body hackers – or biohackers – whose modest goal is to cure disease, end ageing and ultimately stop death. “Why this test is so important,” he said on stage in Austin, just before injecting himself in the leg with the therapy, “is because if we succeed with herpes in even the most minor of ways, then we can move forward immediately with cancer.”
“I immediately thought of an FDA conspiracy theory when I heard Aaron was found dead,” Zoltan Istvan, a noted futurist who is currently the Libertarian candidate for governor of California, tells The Independent. “Our medical system is not one to find cures, but to keep people alive as long as possible while sick to make money off them.”
“Aaron was a transhumanist star and his escapades had pushed him into the public eye,” Istvan says. “Can you imagine what would happen to big pharma if transhumanists like Aaron are in charge? We might arrive at a day when there is no disease and no death, and that makes someone like him very dangerous