Thursday, 27. October 2022

Today, Thursday, October 27, 2022, the further procedure was presented at an exclusive press event in Hamburg at the Factory Hammerbrooklyn. In the presence of Prof. Dr. Joachim Hauber (PROVIREX Genome Editing Therapies GmbH), Katharina Fegebank (Second Mayor and Science Senator of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg), Michael Westhagemann (Senator for Economy and Innovation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg) and Dr. Erik Hoppe (Bioventure Management GmbH) as well as numerous other invited guests, the official starting signal was given for the establishment of a therapy hub to cure HIV.

PROVIREX is a Hamburg-based biotech company focusing on infectious diseases, primarily using a genome editing technology newly developed by its founders. PROVIREX relies on highly specific designer recombinases that enable absolutely precise editing of the human genome. This technology can be used, for example, to reverse infections with the AIDS pathogen HIV. PROVIREX has now succeeded in acquiring Bioventure, a well-known and successful life science investor, which will finance the company for the next four years together with IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH as co-investor to further advance the development of the innovative technology and to build up the necessary infrastructure for research and production in Hamburg.

The technology of Hamburg-based PROVIREX is based on research conducted by Prof. Joachim Hauber and team at the Leibniz Institute of Virology and Prof. Frank Buchholz at the Technical University of Dresden and formerly at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. The company's broad technology and patent portfolio was built up over a period of more than 15 years in the participating research institutes and licensed to the company with the support of Ascenion GmbH as a technology transfer partner.

The designer recombinase Brec1 developed by the founders of PROVIREX recognizes and removes the integrated blueprint of the AIDS pathogen HIV from the genome of the infected cells and, unlike CRISPR technology, reconnects the genome completely free of errors. With this therapy, it may be possible for the first time to permanently and precisely rid infected cells of HIV - a medical breakthrough. Brec1 will be tested promptly, financed by public funds from the BMBF, the BWFGB Hamburg and the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS), in a first clinical Phase Ib/IIa gene therapy study in stem cells at the University Hospital Hamburg (UKE) in individuals with HIV. The results of the study and the technology will subsequently be further used by PROVIREX to conduct the clinical trial (Phase IIb/IIIa).

In addition, PROVIREX is developing in parallel new delivery forms of designer recombinases that allow easier and direct administration by injection. This option would significantly expand the market and provide, for the first time, a tool for global HIV eradication. In addition, this is also a platform technology that is of interest in many other application areas and facilitates numerous other therapies. For this work and in preparation for the much larger Phase IIb/IIIa trial, PROVIREX is currently setting up rented laboratory space in the Start-up Labs Bahrenfeld at the DESY campus.

The investment of Bioventure and IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH in PROVIREX serves to establish a therapy hub in Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld. Due to the implemented increased regulatory safety requirements, the clean rooms for production planned here will enable modern personalized medicine for the first time, which will also be accessible to people living with HIV. On the one hand, this therapy hub will enable the further clinical development and economic use of Brec1 technology, and on the other hand, it will put the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in a leading position throughout Europe in the field of modern biomedicine.

About Prof. Dr. Joachim Hauber

Joachim Hauber headed the Department of Antiviral Strategies at LIV from 2002 to 2021. In his department, research was conducted on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and to a lesser extent on herpes simplex virus (HSV) within the program area Molecular Mechanisms of Viral Pathogenesis. The project focused on studies of the establishment and regulation of latent viral infections. Together with Prof. Frank Buchholz of the Technical University of Dresden, he and his team developed the concept of the designer recombinase Brec1 during this time, which resulted in the spin-off of Provirex in 2020.