Sherpa-Everest 2017 Project


The research will analyze the genetic, physiological and biomedical impact of lack of oxygen (hypoxia) on trekkers, European mountaineers and mountain climbers during approach and ascent to Everest (8,848 m). For the preparation of the study, the biological samples of 15 climbers, led by Ferran Latorre, 15 trekkers and 15 serpas (accustomed to living always at those heights) will be analyzed. The samples will be taken in situ during the different stages of the ascension to see how the body acclimatizes to the height, and to be able to identify the genetic mechanisms of adaptation to the hypoxia or lack of oxygen. Dr. Oriol Sibila, associate physician of the Pneumology Service of the Santa Creu i Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona, an expert in chronic respiratory diseases associated with hypoxia, such as COPD and member of BRN, will be part of the group of researchers who will participate in the expedition.

Study goals

The results will allow to identify the biological bases that determine the adaptations to height and hypoxia in three areas:

  • Pulmonary and cardiac response to hypoxia associated with height will be studied.
  • Markers of respiratory function, muscle and heart damage, global and localized bioimpedance (measure of percentage of fat in the body) and oxidative imbalance will be measured.
  • The expression of the entire genome will be quantified to identify the mechanisms involved in adaptation to height and hypoxia.
  • It will be correlated with all the physiological parameters studied in the project.
  • It will be compared with the gene expression of patients with COPD.
  • The implication of the results obtained in respiratory pathologies associated with chronic hypoxia, such as COPD, will be studied.

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Download the press release here


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