Published 5/1/20 in the Baltimore Business Journal

A University of Maryland, Baltimore-born medical device startup that has been developing a kind of artificial lung was acquired by publicly traded health technology firm Abiomed.

Abiomed (NASDAQ: ABMD) announced Thursday its acquisition of Breethe Inc., a Maryland company based around technology that was spun out of UMB in 2014. The Massachusetts-based company, which produces heart pumps, reported annual revenue of $841 million in fiscal 2020, according to a recent earnings report, and has a market capitalization of $8.6 billion.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to an Abiomed spokesperson, Breethe will operate as a subsidiary of Abiomed. All Breethe employees will keep their current positions and Abiomed will maintain the startup’s Baltimore engineering and manufacturing presence, the spokesperson said in a statement to the BBJ.

Breethe is backed by $19 million in venture funding to date and has under 10 employees, according to PitchBook. Abiomed invested in Breethe’s most recent funding round in 2019, the company disclosed in a press release.

Dr. Bartley Griffith, a transplant surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, founded Breethe based around his concept for an external respiratory assistance device. Breethe’s technology allows for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy, which can be used to help patients who have a severe illness that prevent their lungs from working properly.

Each year, more than 20,000 patients in the U.S. receive ECMO. Breethe’s system, called the OXY-1 System, is designed to remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen to a patient’s blood, much like a working human lung would. The tech eliminates the need for bulky oxygen tanks, and allows patients in need of ECMO therapy to move around more easily. Breethe has filed for clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the OXY-1 System, but has not yet received it.

Abiomed said in a press release Breethe’s technology will “complement and expand” its existing portfolio of Impella medical device products, which are designed to help patients with cardiac issues by improving blood flow or performing the pumping of the heart. Integrating Breethe’s technology will help Abiomed better serve the needs of patients, including those suffering from cardiogenic shock, cardiac arrest or respiratory failure, the company said.

“Abiomed is the best positioned company to build on the legacy of what we started,” Griffith said in a statement. “I am confident that the addition of Breethe’s technology into Abiomed’s product portfolio will further enhance Abiomed’s ability to improve outcomes for their patients and serve a new patient population.”