The Independence
Cardiologist Dr. Phyllis Billia is investigating whether the heart can be altered so it is able to regenerate. (Photo: The Globe and Mail)

Can a damaged heart learn to fix itself?

There's the question Dr. Phyllis Billia is looking to answer through her pioneering research at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre.

Dr. Billia, cardiologist, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Research Lead and Co-Director of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank, says part of the answer may rest in how hearts develop in the first place.

When a baby is born, the heart "proliferates," or grows, for a period of time. Then it stabilizes and stops growing, she explains.

But what if a damaged heart could regrow?

"How can we coax it back?" Dr. Billia asks.

The problem is that the heart is "not really a great regeneration organ," she notes. When a surgeon opens up an artery that caused a heart attack, there is usually irreparable damage.

But Dr. Billia is investigating whether the heart could be altered so that it's able to regenerate.

"If we could get viable heart tissue to repair the damage, then we could prevent heart failure in the kinds of patients I see all the time," she says.

PMCC Magazine - 2018 

The fourth Peter Munk Cardiac Centre magazine is published by The Globe and Mail. Flip through its (digital) pages to read more about a day in the life of PMCC, game-changing devices, precision medicine and a tribute to our namesake, Peter Munk. The magazine is now available online​.

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