Virus culture and virus detection

Viruses are tiny pathogens that threaten humans and animals in great diversity and lead to diseases. Understanding their infection mechanisms, diagnosing them and developing approaches for targeted prevention (vaccines) and therapy (antiviral molecules) are central concerns of our research group.

With our virological, cell biological and molecular biological experience and infrastructure we offer the cultivation, production and detection of selected human pathogenic viruses. Direct and indirect detection methods are available for characterization and further investigation. On this basis, we develop virus-based technologies to make innovative therapies available.

Aerosol-carried viruses – production, capturing and analysis

For the analysis of aerosol-borne viruses, the innovation field Virus-based Technologies has developed a comprehensive and adaptable workflow to answer questions about their spread in enclosed spaces, but also about the effectiveness of possible prevention and inactivation measures –from protective masks to air filters and inactivation procedures with air purifiers:

  • Model systems using ”harmless” viruses 
  • Virus activity tests for detection of infectious viral particles
  • Aerosolization chamber used as closed test environment

These tools enable us to provide a comprehensive and flexible workflow for all inquiries relating to aerosol-borne viruses, allowing us to investigate the efficacy of new processes, such as virus inactivation by UV-C radiation, or devices, such as air purifiers, on behalf of our customers.


hand with virus activity test
© Fraunhofer IGB
Fraunhofer researchers use virus infection tests, e.g. a plaque or TCID50 assay, to investigate whether the air still contains infectious and thus transmissible viruses after inactivation.
© Fraunhofer IGB, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Virus culture (quantification, purification, characterization of viruses)
  • Testing of antiviral molecules and characterization of their mode of action
  • Analysis of virus-virus and virus-host protein interactions
  • 2D infection systems
  • Virus diagnostics using bioanalyzer, PCR, RT-qPCR, microarray and ELISA
  • Differentiation of bacterial, viral and fungal diseases
  • Virus engineering (herpes viruses)

Viruses: Herpes viruses (HSV-1, HSV-2, VZV, EBV), polioviruses, influenza viruses can be produced, concentrated and purified in the L2/S2 range.

A number of virological assays are available for the characterization of the viruses, such as viral plaque assay, TCID50 assay, analysis of growth kinetics and ELISA.

For the detection of pathogen genomes, molecular biological assays such as bioanalyzer, PCR and RT-qPCR are available.

For the analysis of protein interactions (also in high throughput) the yeast 2-hybrid system, the Lumier and the BRET assay are used. Indirect immunofluorescence analysis using confocal microscopy is one of the standard methods.

Selected publications

Lieber, D.; Bailer S. M. (2013)
Determination of HSV-1 infectivity by plaque assay and a luciferase reporter cell line
Methods Mol Biol. 1064: 171-181. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-601-6_12.

Striebinger, H.; Koegl, M.; Bailer, S. M. (2013)
A high-throughput yeast two-hybrid protocol to determine virus-host protein interactions
Methods Mol Biol. 1064: 1-15. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-601-6_1.

Lenac Roviš, T.; Bailer, S. M.; Pothineni, V. R.; Ouwendijk, W. J.; Šimić, H., Babić, M.; Miklić, K.; Malić, S.; Verweij, M. C.; Baiker, A.; Gonzalez, O.; von Brunn, A.; Zimmer, R.; Früh, K.; Verjans, G. M., Jonjić, S; Haas, J. (2013)
Comprehensive analysis of varicella-zoster virus proteins using a new monoclonal antibody collection
J Virol. 87(12): 6943-6954. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00407-13.

Reference projects


July 2022 – June 2026


Biointelligent sensor for the measurement of viral activity

Viruses and viral vectors represent a new class of therapy that has enormous potential to treat or even cure diseases such as genetic defects or cancer. To make them more widely clinically available, developments are needed for their efficient biotechnological production.



May 2022 – August 2022


Kinetic analysis of virotherapy in the 3D organoid model

Therapeutic viruses are currently experiencing a tremendous boom for gene and cancer therapy. However, data from preclinical studies of virotherapies are currently of limited value, as mainly 2D cell systems are used for their analysis. In this project, an infection model for the kinetic analysis of virotherapies is now being established on the basis of a neuronal organoid, which is suitable as a simple, cost-effective and mass-market platform procedure for testing therapeutic viruses.

September 2016 – August 2018


A novel inactivation method for the production of a cost-effective poliovirus vaccine

The project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to develop a new vaccination strategy with the aim of eradicating poliovirus worldwide by inactivating poliovirus by irradiation with low-energy electrons.

March 2014 – December 2017


Effective vaccines with new technology

In this project, a new method for the inactivation of pathogens is being developed for the production of more effective vaccines while avoiding the use of chemicals.

March 2021 – December 2021

Personalized fingerprint of liquids for the detection of germs

In this project funded by the High Performance Center Mass Personalization, a new technology is being developed for the rapid and specific detection of contaminating microorganisms in liquids. Using various analytical methods, a personalized fingerprint is generated. The platform technology is thus suitable for monitoring beverages or biopharmaceuticals as well as for pathogen analysis in patient samples.

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project "FutureProteins"

Due to climate change and environmental pressures resilient and sustainable sources of protein, such as plants, algae, insects and fungi, have to be considered as an alternative to animal-based foods. The Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project FutureProteins is seeking to develop cutting-edge technologies for agribusiness and the food industry. Six Fraunhofer institutes have joined forces to develop new and innovative methods of cultivating, extracting and processing vegetable, fungal, insect and algal proteins for use in the production of appetizing, protein-rich, sustainable foods.


February 2021 – January 2024


Implementation of a hydroponic system as a sustainable innovation for resource-efficient agricultural water reuse

Regional competitions over the resource water are not uncommon. Due to climate change, urbanization and pollution of water resources, these conflicts of use could intensify in the coming decades. Even in Germany that is rich in water, conflicts of use are becoming more frequent.