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Medical device giant Philips buys St. Paul-based RespirTech, maker of vests to assist breathing

The St. Paul company makes vests to help patients clear their lungs.

Philips, the Dutch health technology conglomerate, said Monday it would buy Respiratory Technologies Inc., a St. Paul-based provider of electronic-pulsating vests used to fight respiratory diseases.

Dr. James Ehlen, chief executive of the firm known as RespirTech, told employees that he expects Philips to grow the business significantly.

RespirTech, with 220 employees, manufactures vests initially developed at the University of Minnesota that improve circulation for patients with chronic breathing conditions, such as chronic obstructive respiratory disease and cystic fibrosis. The vests inflate and deflate rhythmically, helping patients clear their lungs.

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