Error-Free Genome Editing
PROVIREX Genome Editing Therapies GmbH is a privately-held biotech company developing first-in-class advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs). PROVIREX’s technology is based on error-free genome editing for eradication of life-threatening persistent virus infection.
PROVIREX employs site-specific recombinase-based genome surgery technology to precisely excise chromosomally integrated viral genomes (proviruses). The major advantage of site-specific recombinases is that they function independently of host DNA repair. Therefore, in contrast to other gene editing technologies, they act with nucleotide precision producing completely error-free recombinants.
The engineered recombinase Brec1 excises HIV-1 proviruses with high specificity from the genome of infected host cells. Brec1 activity has unparalleled and lasting antiviral effects in vitro and in vivo. Consequently, plasma viral load declines to levels below the detection limits of the most sensitive assay systems. No viral rebound has been observed.
The following illustration schematically depicts the therapeutic mechanism of Brec1.
On the road
Starting signal to set up a therapy hub at Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld
At an exclusive press event on October 27, 2022, at Factory Hammerbrooklyn, the official go-ahead was given to establish a therapy hub for an HIV cure in Hamburg Bahrenfeld. Speakers at the event were Prof. Joachim Hauber (PROVIREX), Katharina Fegebank (Vice-Mayor and Senator for Science, HH), Michael Westhagemann (Senator for Economics and Innovation, HH) and Dr. Erik Hoppe (Bioventure).
Original press release (only in german)
New lead investor joins PROVIREX
Bioventure joins PROVIREX as a lead investor! IFB Innovationstarter GmbH also increases its investment as a co-investor. These investments will empower further advances in the development of PROVIREX’s technology and build up the necessary infrastructure for research and production in Hamburg.
Original press release from Oct 2022 (only in german)
PROVIREX moves into Start-Up Labs Bahrenfeld
PROVIREX started renting laboratories and office space in the Start-Up Labs Bahrenfeld on the DESY campus. The newly established workspace enables PROVIREX to develop its technology and scientifically oversee the clinical trial phase Ib/IIa HIVCure.
Ascenion GmbH and Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg GmbH acquire shares in PROVIREX
Researchers from Hamburg plan to use a new gene and cell method to transform the treatment of HIV patients in the future. Under the umbrella of the Hamburg biotech start-up “PROVIREX”, they are developing a new therapeutic approach that uses “gene scissors” to chop out the blueprint of the AIDS pathogen HIV from the genome of infected cells and eliminate the virus. For the first time, this approach should succeed in removing the virus altogether instead of keeping it in check, as with previous forms of treatment. Ascenion GmbH and Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg GmbH have acquired shares in the newly founded company PROVIREX. The start-up will drive the further development of the Brec1 technology, especially concerning simplified and direct forms of application.
PROVIREX Genome Editing Therapies GmbH and Pantherna Therapeutics GmbH are developing lipid-based delivery systems for mRNA-directed genome editing of lymphocytes for the treatment of HIV and other life-threatening persistent viral diseases.
PROVIREX and Pantherna Therapeutics entered into a research collaboration to develop and evaluate Pantherna’s proprietary PTXxLNP delivery technology based on novel lipid-based mRNA formulations for transfecting CD4+ lymphocytes. PTXxLNP is a promising candidate for the “non-viral“ delivery of PROVIREX’s proprietary antiviral genome editing tool Brec1.
PROVIREX’s proprietary Brec1 technology enters clinical testing as a first-in-human phase Ib/IIa clinical trial (HIVcure) aiming to remove HIV-1 from infected subjects using gene editing of the patient’s peripheral blood (hematopoietic) stem cells. HIVcure is being carried out at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Virology (LIV, formerly HPI).
Founding of the company PROVIREX Genome Editing Therapies GmbH
Popular science article from magazine Brand Eins about Provirex and the HIVcure study (in german only).
Karpinski et al. (2016). Directed evolution of a recombinase that excises the provirus of most HIV-1 primary isolates with high specificity. Nat Biotechnol. 34:401-409.
Buchholz & Hauber (2016). Antiviral therapy of persistent viral infection using genome editing. Curr Opin Virol. 20:85-91.
Meinke et al. (2016). Cre Recombinase and Other Tyrosine Recombinases. Chem Rev. 116:12785-12820.
Hauber et al. (2013). Highly significant antiviral activity of HIV-1 LTR-specific Tre-recombinase in humanized mice. PLoS Pathog. 9:e1003587.
Buchholz & Hauber (2013). Engineered DNA modifying enzymes: components of a future strategy to cure HIV/AIDS. Antiviral Res. 97:211-217.
Buchholz & Hauber (2011). In vitro evolution and analysis of HIV-1 LTR-specific recombinases. Methods. 53:102-109.
Sarkar et al. (2007). HIV-1 proviral DNA excision using an evolved recombinase. Science. 316:1912-1915.
Who we are
PROVIREX is a spin-off of the Leibniz Institute for Virology (LIV, former HPI) and is based in Hamburg, Germany. Our team combines profound expertise in biotechnology (particularly genome editing), virology, cell biology, drug development and commercialization.
PROVIREX Genome Editing Therapies GmbH
c/o Start-up Labs Bahrenfeld
Luruper Hauptstraße 1
22547 Hamburg, Germany