Rapid, Transparent Evaluation Helps ‘Stuck’ Biotech Board Resolve Debate over Promising Cancer Therapy

Situation Analysis

The head of strategy for a venture capital-backed biotechnology company was looking for a way to resolve key uncertainties about the next development target for the company’s immuno-oncology platform. While two of the company’s programs were successfully transitioning to clinical stage, questions had come up about the third tumor target program. These uncertainties were intensifying the management board’s debate about whether to pursue development or not.

In particular, the board questioned the company’s ability to differentiate the new product from others in the competitive therapeutic space. At the time several competitors were developing approaches for the same tumor target. The board had further questions about the size of the patient population, potential modification to standards of care, and previously failed approaches, any one of which could sway its decision.

Discovery & Solution

The head of strategy brought in SDG to identify and analyze potential applications of the platform technology on the selected tumor target. To cover the broad range of questions in all their respective dimensions, SDG worked with program stakeholders to identify a comprehensive set of criteria and relevant scales that would form the basis of the evaluation.

Using this decision framework, SDG analyzed the failed and ongoing therapy approaches and quickly identified and narrowed down the applicable and relevant target tumor types. This evaluation, together with an analysis of the competitive landscape, allowed internal experts to select a subset of tumor types for more detailed analysis. Further evaluation on this subset examined a range of alternatives including targeted therapy lines and combination therapies, eventually surfacing the most promising opportunities to take forward. In addition, the team explored future scenarios—such as changes to standards of care—which allowed them to recognize how the platform technology would need to be differentiated depending on how the future might unfold.

Results & Impact

The combination of the decision framework within a landscape perspective enabled a rapid and transparent comparison of opportunities, highlighting aspects of development risk and commercial potential in terms of competition, market size, and differentiation. The head of strategy was able to communicate and discuss these sources of value and risk with the management board. With their concerns addressed to their satisfaction, members of the board moved forward with the third program in the identified tumor type.

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