More than nine million Americans have significant CVI, a condition triggered by problems in one or more superficial leg veins that have blood leakage around the valves that cause the vein to remain filled with blood, especially when standing. CVI is a long-term condition that can lead to chronic life-threatening ulcers and infections of the lower extremities. The risk of CVI increases with age and is more prevalent in women. Other risk factors include a history of deep vein thrombosis, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and smoking.
“Our initial products are very much in tune with the demands for reducing medical costs and producing better results for patients that lie at the heart of health care reform,” said Mike Selzer, CEO of XO Thermix. Selzer has founded and otherwise been involved in several medical device startups, including ConcepTx Medical. He was CEO of Urologix, Inc., from 1998 to 2003 and also worked at Medtronic, most recently as head of its neurostimulation business.
“One of our research interests concerns the use of thermochemical ablation to treat solid tumors, taking advantage of the heat released by appropriate exothermic reactions that have benign products, often substances already present in the body,” explains Cressman. “Mike Selzer reviewed the patent and asked if I thought that the conditions would be sufficient to heat and ablate other tissues, such as veins. We quickly realized that by containing the heated by-products, we could safely obtain temperatures useful for treatment of CVI.”
At the time he learned of Cressman’s patent, Selzer was a participant in the unique “CEO-in-Residence” program at the university’s Office for Technology Commercialization. The program aims to match business executives with university inventions by recruiting individuals who have a track record of success in establishing, financing and leading startup companies. The CEOs-in-Residence participate in reviews of intellectual property at the university and, if an appropriate opportunity is identified, contribute to or lead a new startup company.
The university is an equity partner in XO Thermix Medical, has co-invested funds with the founders, and is a joint research institution for a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for which the company’s founders have applied. The company continues to develop the technology and will begin seeking additional investors when the business opportunity has been fully vetted this fall.