A man has injected himself with a herpes treatment he cooked up himself at a bodyhacking convention. That’s about the only way that I can say that. It’s ridiculous and bordering on the classically mad. But a dude actually did it.
We’ve written about DIY gene-hacking before, particularly about how dangerous it is and the fact that the FDA is keen to put the regulatory breaks on exactly these kinds of shenanigans. And for a good reason. The self-injecting dude, Aaron Traywick, is the intrepid CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, a company dedicated to working on experimental biotech treatments. The treatment got its testing through the firm, though that shouldn’t inspire much confidence.
According to Gizmodo, one member of the audience asked if Traywick had an ethics commission.
“No,” he said. “We label everything ‘not for human consumption,’ technically.”
The whole charade took place at the conference BDYHAX in Austin, Texas. And, while it is completely insane and should never ever be done by anyone ever, there’s a certain semblance of logic to Traywick’s choice to inject random gene crap into his own leg.
“These therapies that we’re developing have the potential to allow individuals, without the requirement of a clinician or without the health car industry, to be able to self-diagnose and self-administer treatments,” Traywick told the MIT Technology review. Treatments, he hopes, will be democratized and accessible to people at all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum. But his theatrics have a lot of people on edge — including other biohackers.
Josiah Zayner, an at-home biologist and CEO of biotech firm The Odin said that Traywick and his company were “gravely misleading people and are making the biohacker community look like idiot scammers.”
Zayner himself had injected himself with a CRISPR treatment last year, a stunt he now regrets.
The FDA has also issued plenty of new rules on the practice of modifying your own genome. “In general,” the agency said in a statement. “If a sponsor (usually the manufacturer, potential marketer, or individual clinician) wants to test an unapproved product in humans, an investigational new drug application must be submitted to the FDA and be ‘in effect’ before the investigational product can be used.”
And again, that’s for a very good reason. Thus far, most biohackers have tended to keep to themselves, but we’re rapidly approaching the point where people with no base knowledge, experience, training, expertise, or understanding are diagnosing and treating illnesses before, presumably, giving themselves a clean bill of health. These trials, again, done without extensive or verified methods, could then be used to market and distribute treatments to people with varying medical conditions and histories who could have bizarre and unpredictable reactions to treatment.
I do hope these results are worth it. Because to me, this borders on lunacy. There is a valid case to be made for regulatory consideration, there is room to question the FDA’s methodology without resorting to this.
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