Two perfect strangers called, an ego was set aside, and technology to kill cancer was discovered, Timothy Askew, president, CSA Medical, told GBC members on July 10. “These strangers explained in very real and human terms how our technology could change lives.”
Askew’s company developed an endoscopic cryoablation technology that uses a liquid nitrogen spray to destroy unwanted tissue. To date, the energy source typically used to destroy unwanted gastroenterology (GI) tissue has been extreme thermal heat, said Askew. Now, there is a “SuperCool Choice.”
Askew was a featured speaker in the GBC’s 2008 Bioscience Speaker Series.
After abandoning plans for medical school, earning an MBA, buying and selling a couple of companies, he came across Crymed Technologies. While the company was tinkering with cryo spray technology, Askew followed a physician and engineer around and decided to make a small investment.
A phone call from “patient no. 11”, their first cancer patient, hooked him when they said “you have had an incredible impact on me and my family, don’t stop.” Askew decided to buy more of the company and named it CSA – for CryoSpray Ablation – Medical.
It took one year and 100 rejections to have enough money for product development, he said. After building Device 101, it began moving to market and attracted investors.
Following some success, the second stranger, Dr. William Krimsky an interventional pulmonologist at Franklin Square Hospital Center, called and said the procedure will work in the lungs. Askew had thought it would puncture them. “This was my ‘Krimsky Moment,’ a humbling moment to broaden my horizons and take a step out of my comfort zone,” said Askew. Askew put $200,000 into funding lung treatment calculations and animal tests with Krimsky, and then launched a small-scale human clinical trial that showed the CSA system can safely kill tumor tissue in the lungs.
In July 2007, the GI system was launched, followed by 36 systems in the field killing cancer. “It kills cancer and doesn’t hurt – no ‘burning’ – no ‘cutting,’” said Askew.
The CSA system has been successful in treating esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that often progresses to esophageal cancer. This version of the device won the Greater Baltimore Committee’s 2008 Best New Product or Progress Award.
The next step was to build the brand CSA Medical so that “SuperCool” would resonate with everyone and not just focus on the device and technology. The new brand message became “Freeze the Disease. Free the Patient. How Cool is that.”
Askew and his company are pursuing the development of new treatment tracks by focusing on six categories, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pleural disease, and malignant/benign tracheobronchial obstructions. The plan is to launch these new tracks, called “Reset Medical,” in July 2009, he said.
In July 2008, CSA Medical closed on $9 million in new funding from 50 of the original investors. CSA Medical is now at that next level treating more patients. “I finally learned to drop the ego and take the call from Krimsky,” said Askew. “I learned the hard way and “patient no. 11” put courage in my heart to step out.”