Cell identity is specified by complex regulatory networks that orchestrate cell type-specific gene expression programs. Syros Pharmaceuticals Inc. is using whole genome methods to define these networks in cancer cells and to guide the development of small molecules that selectively inhibit cancer cell growth.

Syros emerged from stealth mode last week with a $30 million series A round led by Arch Venture Partners and Flagship Ventures. The announcement coincided with the publication of two papers in Cell from two of the company's three scientific founders, which identified a new class of regulatory DNA regions that control genes that maintain cell identity. In cancer cells, these regions were found upstream of numerous known oncogenes, including MYC.