The BBC Health news pages today report that IBM will announce on Tuesday how it intends to hold DNA molecules in tiny holes in silicon in an effort to decode their genetic secrets letter by letter.

Their microelectronic approach solves one of two long-standing problems in “nanopore” DNA sequencing: how to stop it flying through too quickly.

The aim is to speed up DNA sequencing in a push toward personalised medicine. While sequencing the genomes of humans and animals has become relatively routine in a laboratory setting, the ability to quickly and cheaply sequence genomes of individuals remains out of reach. That widely available genetic information will help bring about the era of “personalised medicine” – in which preventative or therapeutic approaches can be tailored to individuals based on their specific genetic makeup.