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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 04:06 GMT 05:06 UK
Volunteer call for Everest 'lab'
Mt Everest
The team will start their expedition in March 2007
A group of medics are seeking volunteers to conduct experiments in what they say is the world's highest laboratory - on the slopes of Everest.

The Xtreme Everest team will be made up of medics seeking to find out effects of high altitude on the human body.

They want 208 volunteers for the 23-day expedition to Everest Base Camp - which is 5,300 metres (17,225 ft) above sea level - early next year.

Candidates will need to have a good level of fitness, organisers say.

Equipment carried up

They will take part in fitness experiments which will include using exercise cycles on the base camp.

Team leader Dr Mike Grocott, of University College London's Institute of Human Health and Performance, said the experiments' findings could be used in critical care treatments.

"By observing healthy individuals at high altitude where oxygen is scarce, we can learn about physiological changes that can improve critical care at the hospital bedside because low oxygen levels are an almost universal problem in critical care."

The equipment the team will use in their lab will have to be carried up by expedition members.

"Conditions that will be helped by the research range from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) to 'blue babies', cystic fibrosis, emphysema and septic shock," said Dr Grocott.

Summit attempt

"Although it's been possible to simulate low oxygen levels in specially designed, low pressure chambers, studies are expensive and can produce variable results.

"As well as having various exercise bikes at four sites including base camp to test the volunteers, we will also take identical exercise equipment to the South Col where we will set up a lab to examine lung, brain and heart function."

It is expected at least 10 of the team will make an attempt on the summit of Everest.

Volunteers wanting to take part will need to pay 2,395, which includes return flights from the UK to Kathmandu and a 500 contribution to scientific research.

An exercise cycle of the type the expedition members will use is being shown at the Science Museum in London - as well as one of the tents the team will use.

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