Ascendance Biomedical update w/ Tristan Roberts et al.




TR: Hey. This is an update on Ascendance Biomedical and the experimental HIV therapy for the M6 antibody.

Just to give a little bit of context, I am here in beautiful Jacksonville, Florida with some of the other members of the team or at least we were members of the team. I'll unpack this in just a little bit.

First I want to give an update on the therapy. We've been trying to develop a modified version of the first gene therapy. That didn't quite happen on the deadline. It was the first time this person was trying to produce it, and things just don't always go according to deadlines which is a deeper issue we'll dig into in a moment. Biology is a bitch sometimes.

In good news, we did have some independent confirmation that the first version was making the thing that we wanted it to make. But this was only in a petri dish. It's not really quite the data that we're hoping to get, which is in vivo, injecting it into myself and testing my blood and seeing whether or not it is actually making the thing we wanted it to be making.

That's the main goal of the next round of testing. The secondary goal is to see if it's effective at suppressing the virus faster than just part alone. I say just part alone because I will be taking conventional retrovirals at the same time as the next version of the gene therapy. This is because there's a very high likelihood of a resistance developing through the application of just one antibody.

These implications weren't fully grasped by our former CEO. I was able, ultimately, -- it was a self-experiment, we, are probably looking at at least another month before that therapy is ready for testing. I think I am going to wait for the in vitro testing just because it seems like a pointless risk in doing it in myself until afterwards.

Alright, so now that's out of the way, I am going to dig into the more interesting drama that has been happening.

This weekend was like planned out a few months ahead. We had a deadline set to produce the therapy and do a livestream. Moreover, Aaron Traywick, the CEO of Biomedical Ascendance, decided to invite four different press crews, only three showed up fortunately. I honestly tried to convince the Canadians to not show up but they just really wanted to meet us. They were a little sad. They came all this way. Let me not get ahead of myself.

As some of you have probably experienced in startups, whether in a business or some other group, you have probalby experienced the growing pains of one person-- you know, assuming the leadership role at the start and not wanting to relinquish that over time. I've been involved in this organization from the beginning with the intention of making something decentralized. I believe that a lot of our problems with our current biomedical system is that it's centralized. People have control but they aren't really collaborating with the people doing the research or the people who have a stake in the outcome of the treatments such as patients and test subjects.

Aaron Traywick has always been supportive of these ideas but we've reached a point in time where it's undeniable that he is not interested in anything other than a very centralized entity. To back up a little bit, we've been having normal sort of friction between the person funding the ventures and the researchers, right. And by thta I mean Aaron vs everyone else involved in the project.

I personally didn't think these problems were insurmountable. Aaron has straight up refused to communicate, to talk, to bargain, to reason. The reality is that, if everyone in the group disagrees with him, then it's probably not a good idea for him to keep pushing forward. In our current capitalist system, he likes to think he has the control.

GL: It can't be both. He can't have the control or just think it.

Well we'll unpack it. In theory he might have control over us, but that's until we quit or unionize. We were sort of leaning towards this. Some of us more aggressively than others.

As we were meeting up in Austin, Texas and Jacksonville, Florida recently, we figured out this is the time to figure out the organizational structure for something that can grow, thrive and adapt and actually become something large enough to not just create one-off experiments but also to do provide these substances to hundreds and thousands of people.

Aaron Traywick has refused to communicate. The lab here in Jacksonville... they tried to leverage some pressure by refusing him entry, or trying to. But this led to him physically pushing somebody and taking the key. Aaron then worked with the landlord to change the locks on the lab, which is a little frustrating because-- a large chunk of the capital material inside of the lab didn't actually belong to him. And now he just has...

GL: Yeah. $50k.

TR: Yeah so now it's just a lab with probably $50k worth of stuff that is not going to be used for the foreseeable future. This was all because Aaron couldn't accept the possibility of his workers having leverage over him, right. He had no desire to be in a position other than having 100% control over the entire organization and its workers.

That's the first issue.

The second issue is open-source. He's been telling me and other people from the start that these projects are open-source. Unfortunately, we found out that Aaron Traywick didn't know what open-source meant. He has started to say "open-source trade secrets".

GL: Really.

TR: Think about that for a moment. Yeah, so. I started talking with him- alright, I understand that we don't have to have it all open at the beginning but let's set a timeline for when we will make the methods and materials open-source so that everyone can look and replicate and give solid feedback on how to improve our work or whether it's a good idea. But he said it will not be open-source. He said "open access". He doesn't mean free papers. He means that he's open to people paying him to have access to our technologies.

GL: It's capitalism but with more steps.

TR: Yeah. It was looking very much like Aaron Traywick was only interested in creating "little pharma". It's the same problems of big pharma where you have the money sort of having different priorities than the researchers.

We're all a little disheartened by this because we have been hearing what we wanted to hear from him. Open-source yay. I'll pay you yay. But the reality is that he has been a giant sponge for money: taking in anything that people might offer, and then giving everyone else the bare minimum he's able to provide.

GL: Don't point the camera at me. There's a bunch of other people that care about this.

TR: This is not just me. We have half of what was the Ascendance Biomedical team here. There's a cat too.

GL: We're all in a room talking about this thing. It's not even like, it's not just you Tristan. Solidarity.

TR: "Aaron is JP Morgan, he is looking for Edison, and you're Tesla". Thank you, thanks man.

GL: Wow.

TR: That's a great metaphor.

GL: Except...

??: Worrying about the organizational structure has been challenging.

TR: As we have been unionizing the researchers.. and then we had this blow-up.. and yesterday when we were supposed to have the livestream, he locked us out of the lab, and changes the locks. This is a microcosm of the bigger picture. The people who have been funding just a tiny bit of this, have the ability to change the locks on threat of violence from the police if things aren't going the way they want to be going.

GL: The concept of being a biohacker is that you can just walk away.

TR: Biohackers are mostly independent. We weren't entirely independent, and this has bitten us in the ass.

GL: Always be able to walk away.

TR: This meltdown happened while three film crews were here in Jacksonville. The first one that is probably going to come out is the HBO vice segment in the next couple weeks. It's going to be absolutely entertaining and riveting, I'm sure. It's going to be pretty brutal. But you know, it's honest.

Alright, let me keep going through the shit list I guess before I talk about more optimistic things.

TR: The other main issue was that Aaron was using the "c" word-- "cure".

GL: There are so many c words.

TR: In this case, it's "cure". Saying that is going to fill people with false hope unless we're absolutely certain it's a cure. It's irresponsible in the long-term. In the short-term it might give a lot of eyeballs on your website, in the long-term it will irritate the people who are actually working on these projects. It's pre-mature to call this a cure. Aaron Traywick has been incredibly pre-mature. This is why there was the fisty-cuffs about the key-- we were trying to convey that we feel strongly about this and if you can't acquiesce to not making us into a public spectacle, then there will be consequences. Aaron did not really want to tango.

Another big issue was using deadlines. These deadlines were set by someone who doesn't have lab experience. While they are useful for getting the press together at the same time, it's a terrible idea. It just wasn't ready. It straight up wasn't ready in this case. Sometimes, shit just doesn't turn out, and you have to go back a few steps in the lab and proceed. Because of this, it's just, we need a different model where the researcher has executive control over how the therapy was handled.

This is what I was hoping to be able to make happen this week, more so than the therapy. I thought that once we were all together in a physicfal space, we would be able to hold hands and work through our differences and work for a solid foundation for the decentralized biomedical revolution.

It didn't work out.

Aaron had no interest to coming to that particular table. I have requested in the past that Aaron hey I know you have some money, I think investment money not just revenue from the first treatment... but he doesn't want to disclose how many investors and how much they have invested, to anyone.

We did some digging after this shitstorm happened. We found some good evidence that Aaron Traywick has been defrauding his investors by using a complicated network of shell companies where people buy equity into a shell and it doesn't get them anything because the money is going to other organizations. This probably explains his contracts, which were all based on profit through one of the organizations. It seems very likely that even if and when successful therapies are developed, the money would have gone into a blackhole orchestrated and owned entirely by Aaron Traywick.

It's with all of these points in mind, and after having my optimism thoroughly crushed and trampled, it's with an unburdened heart that I am announcing that I am dissociating myself from Ascendance Biomedical at least until the CEO is removed. Aaron Traywick is, by most definitions, a scam artist. He has been profiting off of people's good will and it's not cool.

GL: ... use... to... it's like... 80s villain...

??: That's ad hominen.

TR: A lot of you probably wonder, where does this leave the HIV therapy? Well, there's a few other pieces to the therapy that would be needed for a long-term lasting cure. The next round of testing, I was hoping to verify this piece or this tool was working. It would be a tool in the toolbox that people could use along the path on the way to actual cures. The crucial key component that we really need is something that causes the virus to come out of hiding. There's a number of possibilities for how to do this that I'm exploring. I'm confident this is only through a combination of things that dumps the reservoirs of virus, and disrupts its ability to reproduce and other things, that you will be able to have a therapy that lasts in indefinitely suppressing the virus.

I'm optimistic. I know enough biohackers and researchers now that I'm quite confident that I can put together this toolkit and get it tested. I might test out this next version of the m6 therapy, but with the caveat of like, I'm not going to be supporting Aaron Traywick who has been going against the recommendations of his researchers, who have been telling him that this will probably end up creating resistance if used alone, and Aaron Traywick has been saying "well there's no scientific evidence supporting that" but, it happens with the other antibodies and we have no reason to believe that this antibody is different so there's no reason to believe that it wont cause a resistant strain to develop. He might summon it.

I was looking at the possibility that -- even if I was able to prove that this therapy was effective at creating an antibody, I might have bread a resistant strain that would inhjibit my ability to pull out a cocktail that would permanently reduce or suppress the virus. Just, this decision, Aaron Traywick pushed back pretty hard because he wanted some data-- one piece of data to show, to justify him going to Venezuela and having a giant PR campaign by giving out barely tested gene therapies to the people of Venezuela. To be fair, they do have an epidemic and can't access basic medication to suppress.

GL: Also there's a long history of rich white people going to South America and testing medical things on them.

TR: Even if it suppressed for a few months, it would lead to a population developing resistance to this thing that could eventually be a therapy but it would screw these people out of the cure if it ever happened.

So that wasn't cool on my end. But he did acquiesce to that. The deeper reality is that it wasn't ready anyway, so it was just sort of a moot point.

I think this pretty much covers the negative parts about this. I want to talk about steps forward. There's a chance that we will just excise the CEO but it seems like we will just end up re-branding. The scientists and researchers actually doing the work in this organization are legitimate. The science is real. The testing has been real. It's just that, Aaron Traywick, our marketer, our prior CEO, did not have a firm grasp of the scientific realities. What's just as bad is the almost pathological desire for short-term returns on investment. That's not just him, it's the system in which we all live in. This is a microcosm of the macrocosm. This is a very clear example of what happens when the priorities are different.

We want integrity and we want safety. That's most important to us. And yes profit is important and otherwise the organization will collapse. I've been trying to walk this line and figure out a system where the profit motive doesn't override the safety and integrity motives.

I have not seen any desire from Aaron Traywick to reciprocate that, or relinquish absolute control. So it seems like we're going to be operating with other organizations and we're not entirely sure what that is going to look like. We're all pretty optimistic that this is a growing pain, it kind of sucks, but in the long-term it's better that we're able to eliminate Aaron Traywick from our community before he really hurts people. It's not just him stealing our work and lab equipment and making money off of it, but that he doesn't understand that there are simple steps to take to drastically reduce the likelihood of harm happening to people.

I think we can do better. I think we will do better. That sums up about everything that I had to say.

Hopefully in like a month or two, I might be testing it out, and then I will be doing a more in-depth explanation of how the therapy works in theory, what it should be doing, but I think at this point, we're just still reeling from this. I was up until 3am last night, helping to move out items from the lab that belonged to the other researchers. Some of them. Some of them are still in the lab, to be fair. Aaron got very physical about keeping some stuff, which he understands that he doesn't own, but supposedly he will be back to get rid of the rest of it. Yeah. I think that covers it. Any questions before I go?

"Not surprising information, unfortunately."

Yeah, it sucks. We feel bad. But capitalism happens.

GL: The... I'm not super excited about the terminology which is, that somebody will pay us.

TR: That's deeper issues.

GL: ... everybody involved, wanted to help people. Except for one person. And that one person happened to be.

TR: Aaron might have philanthropic goals but it was overriden by his money ambitions.

GL: You're very sweet minded.

TR: Yeah I don't actually have any evidence for that.

GL: As a scientist, you should probably not be...

TR: Super scientist ... yeah.

GL: Don't make strong statements without evidence. We have no evidence of benign motives from Aaron. I think what Tristan is trying to say, if we find someone else to pay you, we haven't actually fixed the fundamental issue that we're dealing with here. You're just finding someone else to pay you. And it doesn't matter. Continuing to be somebody's bitch, whether they pay you or not, doesn't actually make you less of a bitch. It just makes you a bitch with money. At some point, people will wake up and go, oh my god, I'm just a bitch with money. And that is the fundamental issue that we're trying to avoid. We're also just-- we just want to do work. We just want to work. All of the researchers that are involved in this have said, I just want to work. I just want to go and do the thing and help people and I'm not allowed to do that right now... and the fact that you have a group of people that wants to help other people and they are being restricted from doing that; that's not fun.

TR: Yeah.

GL: That sucks. That sucks balls.

TR: They had a lab up and running for 2 months... they got some serious science done, and even one therapy that worked, but um. Future right now is a little bit uncertain. But the science will resume in Jacksonville and elsewhere.

The deeper issue here is a cooperative platform owned by everyone and not just who participates and not just people with money. The researchers and paid test subjects must have some say in how things are done. Until we get to that point, we are going to continue to see therapies that are just good enough being aggressively marketed towards our population while legitimate cures are not pursued as strongly as they should be. So, um, thank you all for joining, listening to this, and uh, I hope to be bringing you a little bit more optimistic news with the next run.

GL: ...

TR: Any more questions? I don't know, not a ton of people watching now. Alright, well, catch you all later.

Research how credit unions work and base it off of that. Yeah, I have been researching ideas like that. Our former CEO was just giving us lip service on that. He has no intention on actually executing on that vision.

Alright, thank you all, cheers.