What defines the life sciences is change and innovation. This can be seen in the progress made in just the last decade in speeding up the time it takes and lowering the cost of sequencing a complete human genome—decoding the “instruction manual” for the cells and organs that make up each of us.

The first human genome was sequenced at a cost of $2.7 billion. It took 13 years. Decoding a human genome now costs about $1,000. It takes a few hours.

Understanding the genetic makeup of each of us individually has ushered in a new era of personalized medicine.

This shift has and will increasingly bring to patients stunningly effective new treatments and cures. And for investors, many new opportunities and rich rewards.

CAR T-cell therapy, for example, has made immunotherapy another option in treating cancer patients, beyond surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Similar to vaccines, cancer immunotherapy targets cells for destruction by identifying the molecular changes that distinguish them from non-cancerous cells.

CAR T-cell therapy involves collecting a patient’s own (unique) immune cells, modifying them to recognize a specific characteristic of the patient’s cancer and then reinfusing them to search out, bind with and destroy the cancer.

JAX Healthcare Forum

The first immunotherapy drugs targeted leukemia. The FDA approved them less than a decade ago. Later CAR T-cell medicines include Keytruda, which was used to successfully eradicate former President Jimmy Carter’s metastasized melanoma.

I first learned of personalized medicine and CAR T-cell immunotherapy at The Jackson Laboratory JAX Healthcare Forum.

This annual event brings together scientists working on cutting-edge treatments like CAR T-cell therapy, venture capitalists, healthcare economists, public health officials and many others.

It is a key venue if you’re looking to learn about new medical discoveries and technologies and how they will affect the healthcare landscape.

This year's JAX Healthcare Forum, scheduled for Oct. 27-Oct. 28, is virtual and open to the public. If you would like to attend, you can learn more about the event and registration here.

About the author: Paul Pescatello is senior counsel and executive director of the Connecticut Bioscience Growth Council. Follow him on Twitter @CTBio.