Researchers say that an experimental treatment involving transplantable lung cells has shown promise in healing acute lung injury.
The lung cells were derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).
The study showed that mice receiving the transplantable lung cells lived longer, sustained less scarring in their lungs and had normal amounts of oxygen in their blood, said Dr Rick Wetsel, the study's senior author and a professor in the university's Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM).
"Respiratory diseases are a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide," said the researchers.
"Current treatments offer no prospect of cure or disease reversal.
"Transplantation of pulmonary progenitor cells derived from human embryonic stem cells may provide a novel approach to regenerate endogenous lung cells destroyed by injury and disease," they added.
During the study, scientists compared the outcomes of mice with damaged lungs receiving the treatment to those not receiving the treatment.
Researchers reported that the experimental stem cell treatment "not only prevented or reversed visual hallmarks of pulmonary injury, but also restored near normal lung function to mice."
Lung cells can be damaged by exposure to pollution and disease agents.
The study appears in the journal Molecular Therapy.