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Biochemistry on Everest

last modified Mar 28, 2013 04:02 PM
Biochemistry on Everest

Jules in Namche

 

While we shiver in an unseasonably cold late March in the UK, Jules Griffin has been on Everest! At Namche, about 3800 m above sea level Jules and student Tom Ashmore started testing themselves, acting as guinea pigs for their own medical research. Experiments continue at Everest Base Camp at 5300 m.

The Xtreme Everest 2 expedition they have joined aims to understand how the human body is affected by low oxygen, called hypoxia, to help to find new treatments for intensive care patients.

The low oxygen conditions at high altitude on Everest mimic what happens to people in hospital intensive care. The lack of oxygen reaching the body's vital organs is a common problem for such patients and can lead to organ failure and death. It is very difficult to study critically ill patients, so we don't really know why some people affected survive and some die. Xtreme Everest scientists are monitoring how healthy volunteers naturally adapt to the low oxygen concentrations found at high altitudes.

Jules has also been studying how the body metabolizes fat and hopes his research on Everest will shed light on a number of important disease processes including those involved in obesity and wasting.

Read more at the MRC Human Nutrition Research website.