Published April 13, 2015 in the Baltimore Business Journal.

Lung disease lands thousands of patients in the hospital every year. And that’s where many of them stay, unable to breathe without a cumbersome respirator to help circulate air through their lungs.

Breethe Inc., a startup out of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, wants to change that experience. The company is developing a portable, artificial lung that will allow patients to continue treatment outside the hospital. Breethe on Monday announced it had finalized an agreement with UM Ventures, the university’s commercialization office, to license the technology behind its invention.

Dr. Bartley P. Griffith, a 30-year lung disease specialist and faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, founded Breethe in 2014 based on technology he developed.

The device is a portable blood pump oxygenator that essentially takes on the job of a lung, circulating air and blood. The wearable device, which is small enough to fit in a backpack, is intended for patients who have experienced respiratory failure or cardiopulmonary collapse, and who would otherwise need a hospital respirator.

“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,” said Griffith, who leads the lung healing program at the medical school and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

The company recently raised $1.7 million in seed funding; UM Ventures contributed $100,000 to the round.