The CEO of a biotech company gave the audience at a 'body hack' conference quite a show when he appeared to inject himself with an experimental herpes vaccine in a bid to show the organisation's transparency. Federal authorities in the US have been careful to note that many gene therapy products are still in need of study and until approval are illegal.
Aaron Traywick, the 28-year-old CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, removed his trousers and injected himself at the BDYHAX conference in Austin, Texas, on Sunday (4 February).
"Over the last 12 months we have been developing a vaccine and a cure for herpes type one and type two," Traywick said, introducing the event as it was livestreamed by News2Share.
Traywick suggested that the company's aim was to produce a one-time cure and vaccine for the virus that could be sold for under $100 (£71).
It was not the first time Traywick and Ascendance Biomedical have hit the headlines with similar live experiments: in 2017 they live-streamed a man self-administering an untested treatment for HIV.
Traywick told a member of the audience that ethical permission was not necessary before the demonstration.
"This research compound is being used by a member of the Ascendance Biomedical team for personal experimentation purposes," he said. "We label everything not for human consumption."
In a statement in November, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said gene therapies "offer the potential to treat diseases or conditions for which no or few treatments exist" but that the sale of DIY gene therapy kits not officially approved was against the law.
"FDA is concerned about the safety risks involved," the authority added.
"Consumers are cautioned to make sure that any gene therapy they are considering has either been approved by FDA or is being studied under appropriate regulatory oversight."