NanoString, a novel digital color-coded barcode technology: current and future applications in molecular diagnostics

Hin Fung Tsang, Vivian Weiwen Xue, Su Pin Koh, Ya Ming Chiu, Lawrence Po Wah Ng, Sze Chuen Cesar Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sample is a gold mine of resources for molecular diagnosis and retrospective clinical studies. Although molecular technologies have expanded the range of mutations identified in FFPE samples, the applications of existing technologies are limited by the low nucleic acids yield and poor extraction quality. As a result, the routine clinical applications of molecular diagnosis using FFPE samples has been associated with many practical challenges. NanoString technologies utilize a novel digital color-coded barcode technology based on direct multiplexed measurement of gene expression and offer high levels of precision and sensitivity. Each color-coded barcode is attached to a single target-specific probe corresponding to a single gene which can be individually counted without amplification. Therefore, NanoString is especially useful for measuring gene expression in degraded clinical specimens. Areas covered: This article describes the applications of NanoString technologies in molecular diagnostics and challenges associated with its applications and the future development. Expert commentary: Although NanoString technology is still in the early stages of clinical use, it is expected that NanoString-based cancer expression panels would play more important roles in the future in classifying cancer patients and in predicting the response to therapy for better personal therapeutic care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Review of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • digital color-coded barcode technology
  • molecular barcodes
  • NanoString technologies
  • NanoString Technologies nCounter Analysis System

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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