PEP Buddy, a UC Venture Lab-backed startup, was created by Muhammad Ahsan Zafar, MD, and Ralph J. Panos, MD.

With COPD, it takes longer for people to get inhaled air out of their lungs. With each breath, extra air is retained in the lungs. This “air stacking” during activities (dynamic hyperinflation) is the primary reason for breathlessness in people with COPD and also leads to decreased oxygen levels.

PEP Buddy gives a gentle back pressure while the user breathes out, which assists in keeping open air tubes in the lungs and preventing them from collapsing. The device also prolongs the exhalation phase and reduces the breathing rate, decreasing the effects of air stacking.

“It’s just simply placed in the mouth, one breath in through the nose, and then out through the device. That resistance to airflow creates the back pressure, which relieves the air trapping and dynamic hyperinflation,” Panos said.

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