Virus research with FluidFM technology

How FluidFM can help understanding fundamental questions in virus research.

With the rise of the recent COVID 19 pandemic, the vulnerability of the diverse healthcare systems across the world to highly infectious diseases  became apparent. The SARS-CoV2 is just another severe outbreak of a disease that cannot be easily detected and confined within geographical borders.

The unexpected spread of the SARS-CoV2, and its disastrous impact on the strongest economies worldwide, made the political and scientific communities aware that  profound understanding and investments are needed in all areas of epidemiology if we want to improve our defenses against future pandemics. 

Among other modern techniques that help understanding virus function towards the development of novel vaccines and drugs, FluidFM technology can help answer fundamental questions on virus virulence, replication, host immune response and can boost development of novel drugs and vaccines via precise bottom-up approaches by: 

Pin-point delivery

Gain insights into viral infection dynamics enabled by the pin-point delivery of single virions and observe how the infection spreads to neighboring cells.

Measuring biophysical changes

Measure biophysical changes induced by infection of single cells, such as mass changes, variation in stiffness, and changes in adhesion force.

Faster production of antibodies

FluidFM makes the production of recombinant antibodies faster, by generating monoclonal cell lines in less than two weeks with a single-cell approach.

Testing on a single cell level

Test newly developed drugs on single cells by directly delivering them into cells to understand dose-response relationships and inferring on drug intake rate.

 Pin-point delivery

Placing virions. One-by-one.

Odoo • Text and Image
Odoo • Text and Image
Odoo • Text and Image
Odoo • Text and Image

Virion deposition procedure with FluidFM.

Controlled virus infection experiments at the single cell level can help investigate aspects like

  • Cell entry and infection mechanism

  • Cellular response, virus cooperativity and virus life-cycle stages

  • Proliferation, spreading rate and cell to cell infection

Using our FluidFM micropipette, one single virion can be delivered on top of a selected adherent cell. The effects can be monitored and analyzed with the integrated optical microscopy. This method was developed by researchers at ETH Zurich (Stiefel et al., 2012) to demonstrate the link between the probability of viral infection and the number of virus particles attacking a cell.

Higher cell viability for your CRISPR gene editing research achieved by direct CRISPR complexes delivery.

A single virion is being pushed through the hollow cantilever of the FluidFM micropipette and can be deposited on a selected single cell.

Higher cell viability for your CRISPR gene editing research achieved by direct CRISPR complexes delivery.

4 virions have been deposited on a selected single cell.

P. Stiefel, F.I. Schmidt, P. Dörig, P. Behr, T. Zambelli, J. A. Vorholt, and J. Mercer. Cooperative Vaccinia Infection Demonstrated at the Single-Cell Level Using FluidFM. Nano Letters, 2012.

 Measuring biophysical changes

Study mechanobiological changes of infected cells.

Combined with an AFM, FluidFM can measure adhesion forces, stiffness, and even real-time mass changes of single cells with extreme sensitivity (Cytomass Monitor by Nanosurf). The study of these biophysical markers brings understanding of the action and mechanisms of viruses on mammalian cells. Notably, researches have demonstrated how Vaccinia virus infection stops growth and cell cycle progression. Read the publication.

With FluidFM, such force measurements benefit from up to a 10x higher throughput compared with an AFM that is not equipped with FluidFM.

Go to our application page to find out more about our force spectroscopy applications.

Go to application page

In this video, a single cell is detached from fully adherent and confluent culture. The measured forces both depend on the substrate as well as the bonds to the neighboring cells. Courtesy of A. Sancho and J. Groll, Functional Materials for Medicine and Dentistry, University Hospital of Würzburg. 

 Faster production of antibodies

Generate monoclonal cell lines in less than two weeks.

Odoo • Image and Text

We recently demonstrated that by combining the FluidFM core methods nano-injection and single cell isolation together with the use of CRISPR complexes, a monoclonal cell line can be generated in less than three weeks (more information). When compared to the average development time of two months offered by current industry standards, FluidFM appears to be the right choice to develop monoclonal cell line faster and with less safety concerns.

Placing CRISPR complexes directly in the nucleus, the genome of single cells can be edited with precision and high efficiency, for example in projects related to antibody production.
More information about direct intra-nuclear CRISPR delivery.

Thanks to the continuous force control, viability of cells is preserved from injection through to isolation. 

 Testing on a single cell level

Study the drug reaction of infected cells at the single cell level

FluidFM nano-injection can be used to deliver any kind of compound directly into cells, de facto bypassing the tedious development and optimization of the appropriate delivery method.

This becomes particularly useful in the early phase of drug development when the effects of a drug need to be assessed in cellulo. In turn, this leads to answer questions about drug permeability and uptake.

Virus-infected cells have altered properties and may respond differently than healthy cells to the same drugs.

Odoo • Image and Text

Discover our systems

Odoo - Sample 1 for three columns

FluidFM AFM Series

Powerful & affordable ADD-ON for AFM systems.


Odoo - Sample 2 for three columns

FluidFM BOT BIO Series

Stand-alone solutions for single cell research.


Virus research boosted by FluidFM. Get in touch!

Get in touch with one of our FluidFM experts and find out how FluidFM technology can help you accelerate your virus research.