Syros Pharmaceuticals is undergoing a significant transformation, which includes a workforce reduction of 35%, as it narrows its focus to advance a promising medicine for higher-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (HR-MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Alongside this restructuring, the company has announced the retirement of its CEO, Dr. Nancy Simonian, who will step down at the end of the year. Conley Chee, presently serving as Chief Commercial Officer and Chief Business Officer, will succeed Simonian, commencing on December 2. Chee joined Syros from Novartis in 2021.
These strategic shifts come on the heels of Incyte’s decision to conclude a five-year collaboration with Syros in August. Despite initially identifying seven targets, Incyte opted not to pursue further development. Earlier in the year, Pfizer also withdrew from a sickle cell program in partnership with Syros. The collaboration had been inherited by Pfizer following its acquisition of Global Blood Therapeutics in 2022.
Syros will now pivot its attention to tamibarotene, which is expected to deliver a phase 2 readout in AML later this year, with a pivotal phase 3 readout for HR-MDS slated for next year. Dr. Simonian expressed the necessity of these decisions, citing the company’s commitment to advancing tamibarotene for patients with HR-MDS and AML. Due to capital constraints, further investment in SY-2101, an oral form of arsenic trioxide being developed for acute promyelocytic leukemia, will be halted for the foreseeable future. However, the possibility of resuming this program remains open when additional funding becomes available.
The remaining Syros team will focus their efforts on tamibarotene, including preparations for a potential U.S. launch. Additionally, Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Eric Olson will depart from the company as the primary focus shifts to tamibarotene, effective October 16.
As of June 30, 2023, Syros reported cash and equivalents totaling $144 million, expected to sustain the company into 2025, as indicated in a second-quarter earnings report. These strategic adjustments are aimed at ensuring that Syros Pharmaceuticals can navigate critical value inflection points and continue its mission of delivering innovative treatments to patients in need.