A new study by Japanese scientists shows that cells from menstrual blood may be useful in repairing heart damage.

Researchers obtained menstrual blood from nine women and focused their study on a kind of cell that can act like stem cells.

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About 20 percent of these cells began beating spontaneously about three days after being put together in vitro with cells from the hearts of rats, the study says. The cells later formed sheet-like heart muscle tissue.

The success rate is 100 times higher than the 0.2 to 0.3 percent for stem cells taken from human bone marrow, researcher Shunichiro Miyoshi, a cardiologist at Keio University's school of medicine, told French news agency AFP.

Experiments showed that rats who had suffered heart attacks improved after they received the menstrual blood cells, according to the study, which appeared in the medical journal Stem Cell.

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