Breethe Aims for First Wearable Artificial Lung

April 17, 2015    |  

University of Maryland (UM) Ventures and Breethe, Inc. announced April 13 that Breethe, an early-stage, Baltimore-based medical device company, has obtained exclusive rights to University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) intellectual property (IP) for the development of a wearable, portable blood pump oxygenator that will function as an artificial lung system for patients suffering from respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary collapse.

Faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine developed the core licensed technology, with Breethe also obtaining important supporting technology co-owned by UMB and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) as part of the license agreement. The Breethe team plans to leverage the technology to bring the first wearable ‘out-of-hospital’ artificial lung system to market. UMB has made a $100,000 investment in Breethe through UM Ventures.

“The portable artificial lung system developed at UMSOM has the potential to revolutionize treatment for patients with severe pulmonary disease,” said Phil Robilotto, DO, MBA, chief commercialization officer, UM Ventures, Baltimore. “Breethe has quickly assembled a superior management team and UM Ventures is excited to see the company advance this extremely promising technology to the medical marketplace.”

Bartley P. Griffith, MD, executive director of the University of Maryland Medical Center/School of Medicine Program in Lung Healing and the Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor in Transplant Surgery at the School of Medicine, with 30 years of experience in respiratory and heart support devices, developed the core technology and is the company’s founder.

According to the American Lung Association, lung disease is the No. 3 killer (behind heart disease and cancer) in the United States, and is responsible for one in six deaths. Nearly 400,000 Americans die from lung disease each year. Breethe’s technologies will address unmet need for patients living with lung disease.

“There is growing demand for a new technology to take over the function of the human lung while allowing patients mobility,” said Griffith. “Our respiratory assist and cardiopulmonary support technology has the potential to dramatically improve patient care and quality of life by enabling otherwise hospital-bound patients to leave the hospital and resume more of their daily activities.”

Through UM Ventures, UMB can make investments in particularly promising startups driven by university-created technologies,” said James L. Hughes, MBA, director of UM Ventures and chief enterprise and economic development officer and vice president, UMB. “Providing funding resources to Breethe helps the company move forward in its commercialization process, and supplements other economic support available through the state. This investment should be a win-win all around: for the company, for UMB, and for fueling health-tech development within the state of Maryland.”