Scientists had previously converted stem cells into cells of the heart, intestine, liver, nerves and pancreas, Fox News reports.
"Now, we are finally able to make lung and airway cells," study leader Dr. Hans-Willem Snoeck, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University in New York, said in a statement.
Patients who receive lung transplants today have a poor prognosis. But future approaches involving transplants that use the patient's own stem cells to generate lung tissue could reduce the chances that a patient's immune system would reject the transplant, the researchers said.
In the new study, Snoeck's team found evidence suggesting the cells could develop into six types of lung and airway epithelial cells.
The technology could enable researchers to model certain lung diseases.