Start-Up PROVIREX: Innovative approach to cure HIV

Wednesday, 29. April 2020

Researchers from Hamburg are planning to use a new gene and cell method to improve 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 so-called gene scissors to cut out the blueprint of the AIDS pathogen HIV from the genome of the infected cell and eliminate the virus. This approach could for the first time succeed in removing the virus instead of keeping it in check, as is common 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 with regard to simplified and direct forms of application.

The concept is based on research by Joachim Hauber and his team at the Heinrich Pette Institute (HPI), Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology and Frank Buchholz at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and at the Technical University of Dresden. Together they have developed and optimized ‘gene scissors’: the designer recombinase Brec1. The approach is currently being prepared for clinical trials in collaboration between the HPI and the Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). It will initially be evaluated as part of stem cell therapy involving eight HIV patients at the UKE's Department of Stem Cell Transplantation under the leadership of Nicolaus Kröger. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Hamburg Senate and ForTra gGmbH für Forschungstransfer – the subsidiary of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation (EKFS) – have provided funding and investment resources for this purpose.

Senator for Science Katharina Fegebank: "Hamburg startup Provirex can make a decisive contribution to the fight against HIV and AIDS. This new form of treatment could make it possible to free patient cells from HIV permanently and accurately for the first time, which would be a medical, societal and historical breakthrough on the way to curing HIV and AIDS.”

"This could become a milestone in the fight against HIV," adds Joachim Hauber. "We are delighted that we now have the opportunity here at the UKE campus in Hamburg to develop new treatment methods based on our own research results.”

As one of the three technology providers, Max Planck Innovation worked closely and constructively with Ascenion, its main transfer partner, and the Technical University of Dresden on Provirex's licensing right.

Media Contacts:

Pressestelle I Behörde für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Gleichstellung

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Pressestelle I Behörde für Wirtschaft, Verkehr und Innovation
Telefon: 040 42841 1326
E-Mail: pressestelle(at)



PROVIREX Genome Editing Therapies GmbH

Telefon: +49 40 9999 69 190 | oliver.ahnfeld(at)


IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH, Dörte Bunge

T.: +49 40 6579805 95 I bunge(at)


Ascenion GmbH I Stanislava Zollner, Corporate Communication,

zollner(at), +49 89 3188140


PDF download of the press release (German)