lungs_wikimedia_commons-588x269Nearly 400,000 Americans die each year from lung disease. The just-formed University of Maryland spinout Breethe Inc. is building a wearable, portable blood pump oxygenator that’ll work as an artificial lung. It’s designed for patients with respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary collapse.

Though Breethe’s in the earliest of stages, it’s meant to be the first portable lung that can be used outside of a hospital setting – a welcome alternative for the many patients in need of lung transplants but unable to make it far enough down the list.

The medical device company has licensed the technology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the school’s venture arm has seeded Breethe with a $100,000 investment.

“The portable artificial lung system developed at UM SOM has the potential to revolutionize treatment for patients with severe pulmonary disease,” Phil Robilotto, UM Ventures’ chief commercialization officer, said in a statement.

Breethe’s technology was developed by Bart Griffith, executive director of UM’s Program in Lung Healing.