In “The Biotech Game of Life,” which is similar to the Game of Life, each player is a scientist attempting to successfully bring his or her biotechnology product to the market. During the game, players will face many obstacles before obtaining a successful product and the first one to accomplish this wins. Below are the instructions, which provides more details on the game, and links to the game board and play money (pdf files). Note, that like the real thing, it is quite challenging to finish the game.

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Gameboard (312K)
$10,000 bills (916K) | $100,000 bills (767K) | $1,000,000 bills (918K)

Background and Purpose
You’re a successful scientist and you have an idea for a potential biotechnology product that you want to bring to market. In playing this game you will experience the trials and tribulations associated with developing your biotechnology related idea into a successful commercial product. You will do this by generating and patenting an idea. Your job will be to create a biotechnology company then finance clinical trials in order to ensure the safety and efficacy of your product. After undergoing rigorous clinical testing, you’ll be able to bring your product to market and hopefully make a profit.

In reality, developing an idea into a product that a biotechnology company can sell usually takes at least 10 years, if not longer. Only a fraction of companies are able to survive long enough to see their product come to market and this is a money-losing venture. Several hundred million dollars can be spent during this time.

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Key Concepts
Patent: a document made by a government to protect and gives the creator of an invention the sole rights to make, use and sell that invention for a set period of time.

Grant: funding from a nonprofit organization, usually for a specific project.

Clinical trials: planned, controlled experiments that generally involve the participation of patients, staff, healthy volunteers or students. These trials require an Ethics Committee approval before the trial can commence.

Phase 1-Safety: the first time an experimental drug will be used in humans. The purpose is to assess the initial safety of the drug, as well as the metabolism, absorption, elimination and other drug activities, the mode of drug administration (topical, IV, oral, etc.) and safe drug range. Usually trials are conducted on healthy volunteers.

Phase 2-Dosage: The purpose is to explore the effectiveness of different dosage schedules for a research treatment following safety evaluation in a Phase I trial. Trials are usually conducted on patients.

Phase 3-Efficacy: The purpose of a Phase III trial is to assess a drug’s effectiveness (efficacy) and safety compared against a suitable placebo or best current treatment or to determine the optimum dosage level for the treatment of a specific condition in a specific group of patients. These studies are randomized, intervention allocation and measurement is usually masked fromm study participants and investigators. These trials often involve many centres and may require approval from a Multi-centre Research Ethics Committee (MREC), before the trial can commence.

FDA: The Food and Drug Administration is one of the United States’ oldest and most respected consumer protection agencies. Some of the responsibilities of the FDA include: reviewing new medical treatments for patients, forming initiatives to promote safe food-
handling practices and forming initiatives aimed at improving the safety practices in blood banking

Venture Capital: a fund raising technique for companies who are willing to exchange equity in the company in return for money to grow or expand the business. Equity refers to ownership interest in a corporation in the form of common or preferred stocks. Venture
capital firms often want a high rate of return (20%+) and will finance the business with $500,000 to millions.

IND: – Acronym for Investigational New Drug Application. This is the typical mechanism for access to investigational drugs and involves subjects who meet entry criteria as defined in the protocol submitted to the FDA.

Fast tracking: the shortening of the review period of a new and promising drug. The drug must show particular promise in treating serious or life-threatening conditions that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs.

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Objective of the Game
To reach the finish line first and successfully bring your biotechnology product to market.

To Start the Game
1. For 2-4 players.
2. Equipment needed: 1 six-sided die, 4 playing pieces.
3. Print out the board game, preferably using a color printer, and enlarge 129% (letter to 11 x 17).
4. Print, cut, and sort out the money into their separate denominations. You will need 10 sheets of each the $10,000, $100,000, and $1,000,000.
5. Choose a banker. (If you like roll the die and the person who has the lowest number becomes the banker).
6. Place all the player pieces on the start square.

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Playing the Game
Each player must be assigned one idea each, from the list provided below. This is done by rolling the die and the corresponding number refers to the idea that they will develop into a product that their biotechnology company will attempt to bring to market. The potential idea choices are:

(i) You might be able to cure baldness by using viral gene therapy. Your idea will use genetically engineered viruses to infect hair follicle cells to induce them to grow. Starting cash = $50,000

(ii) After watching a Discovery Channel documentary, you learn that dust mites eat dead human skin. Your idea will use genetically engineered dust mites that could be used as an alternative to bathing with soap and water. The dust mites would clean a person by eating the dirt and grim found on human skin. Starting cash = $20,000

(iii) A new species of ants, Antus canerus, recently discovered in the Amazon, produces a novel chemical that seems to prevent cancers in the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. Your idea is to develop the chemical into drug to treat cancer. Starting cash = $30,000

(iv) While in your garden, a weed that you’ve been having trouble removing produces a very fragrant scent. After accidentally getting the scent on you, you notice people think that you are more attractive then you really are. Your idea is to develop the weed derived scent into a perfume that can attract the opposite sex. Starting cash = $60,000

(v) While walking in the park near your house, you become hungry and began to snack on purple berries found in the park. After returning home you notice you lost 2 kg. Your idea is to develop the purple berries into an effective weight loss drug. Starting cash = $40,000

(vi) While snorkeling in Australia you are stung by the jellyfish, Jellus hurtus, on your foot. You notice almost immediately after being stung your athletes foot fungal infection has mysteriously disappeared. Your idea is to develop an anti-fungal treatment based on the venom of the jellyfish, Jellus hurtus. Starting cash = $10,000

Roll the die. The lowest roll goes first, others take turns going clockwise. The banker gives each player the appropriate amount of starting cash corresponding to the player idea. A player’s roll determines the number of spaces that you move. Notice there are 4 kinds of spaces to land in.

Reward/Penalty Square: (usually white with black writing). When you LAND IN these squares, note the instructions in italics.

Red STOP! Square: Major square. You must STOP, regardless of your roll, and follow instructions in the square. You must roll odds/evens to continue.

Arrow Back Square: (usually with orange writing) This is a penalty square – when you LAND IN an Arrow Back Square, move back to last major (red STOP!) square passed.

Arrow Forward Square: (two of these, one with green writing, the other a black square near the end) This is a bonus square -when you LAND IN an Arrow Forward Square, advance forward to the next major (red STOP!) square.

Dollar Sign Square: Reward takes place when you LAND IN OR PASS a Dollar Sign square. These squares can be categories as Grant, Stock Market, or Venture Capital Investment squares.

– If you LAND IN OR PASS a Grant square you gain money. The amount of money you collect, from the bank, depends upon the number rolled multiplied by $10,000. For example, if you rolled a 4, you will collect $40,000.
– If you LAND IN OR PASS a Stock Market square you must play the stock market in that turn. To play the stock market, role the die. If you rolled a 1 or a 2, the market is down. You pay the bank $250,000. If you role a 3 or a 4, the market is stable. No gain or loss. If you roll a 5 or a 6, the market is up. You collect $250,000 from the bank.
– If you LAND IN or PASS a Venture Capital Investment square, you gain money. The amount of money you collect, from the bank, depends upon the number rolled multiplied by $100,000. For example, if you rolled a 3, you will collect $300,000.

If you become bankrupt at anytime during the game, you will unable to continue and you must return to the last major (red) square and miss a turn. During this time your friends and family feel guilty about your recent traumatic events and decide to give you $200,000 from the banker to continue playing the game.