The 28-year-old CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, a controversial medical startup, was found dead in a Washington, D.C. flotation therapy tank on Sunday, authorities said.
Aaron Traywick was found dead in a D.C. spa, the Metropolitan Police Department told VICE News on Tuesday. A family member reportedly added Traywick had been found in a flotation therapy tank. While the investigation is ongoing, police said early evidence does not suggest foul play, VICE reported.
Ascendance Biomedical’s goal is to make “cutting-edge biomedical technologies available for everyone” by skirting traditional research protocols. The company is currently researching compounds that promise to potentially eliminate HIV/AIDS and herpes, slow the aging process and more. The company’s employees are known for testing these experimental therapies on themselves. In fact, just a few months ago, Traywick made headlines for injecting himself with a largely untested herpes treatment while on stage at a conference.
The Food and Drug Administration released a consumer advisory shortly after the company posted a video that showed individuals self-administering a gene therapy it had developed, the MIT Technology Review reports, though it did not mention Ascendance by name.
Traywick had not been in touch with anyone at Ascendance Biomedical for weeks leading up to his death, and the company was consumed by disagreements over its direction and guiding principles, according to VICE. “We all lost touch with him. It was radio silence,” Andreas Stuermer, a researcher at the company, told the site. “It was more than four weeks ago.”
Stuermer added that, “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.”