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MAKING A MARK: Chesapeake doctor, team bring new treatment option to Hampton Roads

Stem cell therapy could bring about new treatments for illnesses and medical conditions. Dr. Christian Perez and his team are helping to make it an option locally.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Dr. Christian Perez is the medical director of Procreate Fertility Center of Virginia. The practice has locations in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Newport News.

Dr. Perez said their Chesapeake location opened Telomerix Stem Cell Biobank last year, and the private stem cell bank is the first of its kind in Virginia.

"Cryopreservation of cells is what we do. That is what we do for a living," said Dr. Perez. "All these processes, we have highly specialized labs that... that's what they do here."

Stem cells are the body's raw materials, and they don't yet have a specific function. That means they have the potential to become whatever the body needs.

"[A] stem cell is the cell that self-renew[s] constantly, ha[s] the ability to differentiate into any cell in your body... that is incredible," said Dr. Perez. "Our bodies are built out of specialized cells... Stem cells are the ones that mediate the healing of the cells that get damaged by disease, by trauma, or by aging."

Dr. Perez said the bank currently processes and stores stem cells from umbilical cord blood and tissue. Researchers are studying their ability to treat a wide range of conditions- from cancers and Type I Diabetes to complications caused by COVID-19.

"There is now the ability to infuse stem cells in the place where the damage happened," said Dr. Perez, "and improve... greatly the outcome of these injuries."

Dr. Perez said for people with limited treatment options, it offers new hope.

"The cells at the cellular level are repaired, and these men or women can get and have a really functional life," said Dr. Perez.

Telomerix Stem Cell Biobank is located at 700 Oak Grove Road in Chesapeake. Visit the bank's website for more on the stem cell extraction process and the costs for collection and storage.

Author's Note: The video below is on file from Sept. 13, 2021.