US scientists head to Mount Everest for research

By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA , Associated Press
US scientists head to Mount Everest for research (AP)
FILE - In this May 19, 2010 file photo, clouds hover above the world's highest peak Mount Everest, as seen from Syangboche, about 125 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Katmandu, Nepal. A team of American scientists and researchers is setting up a laboratory at Mount Everest to study the effects of high altitude on humans. Team leader Dr. Bruce Johnson and eight other team members flew to the airstrip at Lukla, near Everest, on Friday, April 20, 2012. (AP Photo/ Binod Joshi)

(AP) -- A team of American scientists and researchers flew to the Mount Everest region on Friday to set up a laboratory at the base of the world's highest mountain to study the effects of high altitude on humans.

The team from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota says it plans to monitor nine climbers attempting to scale Everest to learn more about the physiology of humans at high altitudes in order to help patients with and other ailments.

"We are interested in some of the parallels between high altitude physiology and physiology," Dr. Bruce Johnson, who is heading the team, told The Associated Press before leaving Nepal's capital, Katmandu, for the mountain. "What we are doing here will help us with our work that we have been doing in the (Mayo Clinic) laboratory."

Johnson and the eight other team members flew to the airstrip at Lukla, near Everest, on Friday.

It will take them about a week to trek to the Everest base camp, with several porters and yaks helping to carry their 680 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of medical equipment. They will set up their lab at the base camp, which is located at 5,300 meters (17,380 feet), and expect to be at the camp until at least mid-May.

The team says Everest's extreme altitude puts climbers under the same conditions experienced by patients suffering from heart disease.

The team members plan to study the effects of high altitude on the heart, the lungs, and sleep during their stay at Everest, which peaks at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet).

Johnson said that the team's laboratory at the Mayo Clinic focuses on lung congestion during failure and that lung congestion often kills mountain climbers.

Hundreds of climbers and their guides attempt to climb Everest every year, while thousands more trek up to the base camp. Several of them suffer from high altitude sickness and other complications because of the low level of oxygen.

An experienced Sherpa guide who had scaled Everest at least 10 times died of sickness Wednesday at the mountain's base camp, becoming the first fatality in this year's spring climbing season.

Hundreds of climbers and their guides are currently camped at the base camp preparing to scale Everest. Climbers generally try to scale the mountain in May, when weather conditions usually improve just enough to enable them to attempt to reach the peak.

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

20 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

23 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments