Based: Lexington, MA
Founded: Spun off in 2002
Why It's Fierce: In two years Synta has gone from a subsidiary of a Japanese firm to an aggressive, independent up-and-comer with promising drugs in clinical trials and a growing list of top executives. The company has two cancer drugs in development, including multiple Phase II trials of HSP70-Inducer and three candidates for immune disorders. The core scientific team, led by CEO Safi Bahcall, has been operating together for 10 years and new talent is streaming in. Three months ago, Matthew Sherman signed on as chief medical officer coming from Wyeth's research wing. New additions to the company's scientific advisory board have brought in some of the top academic talent from Harvard and King's College.
What to look for: Clinical data to back up its high hopes.