NanoString, a Seattle nanotech company working on tiny tags that it says will allow it to identify and count individual molecules in a solution, has raised $8.5 million in a second funding round, VentureWire reports (subscription required). Draper Fisher Jurvetson and OVP Venture Partners each invested $4 million, with individual investors making up the remainder, NanoString CFO Wayne Burn told VentureWire.

NanoString is developing tags of tiny fluorescent beads that can latch onto particular nucleic acid or protein molecules, effectively “bar-coding” them in a way that can be read by a sophisticated optical scanner. By arranging differently colored beads in various order, it’s possible for the company to create a vast number of individual tags that can identify particular molecule types. The company first plans to target products for genetic analysis, and later will expand into identification and analysis of proteins and other molecules for medical diagnostics, bioterrorism-detection applications, and agriculture.

Formed in 2003, the company is a spinout from the Institute of Systems Biology.

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