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3 Day Pre-Everest Study at Duke

Study of Epigenetic Effects of Subacute Altitude Exposure

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The purpose of this study is to assess the effect of a 3 day exposure to a maximum altitude of 3500 meters (11,480 feet), close to the altitudes of White Mountain Peak, California and La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia. The main purpose is to determine the extent to which the body’s chromosomes may be altered by this exposure without any change in the genes themselves (so called epigenetics). We wish to test whether any epigenetic changes may differ between experienced mountaineers and people who live at low altitudes. We will also be collecting urine, hair and cheek swab samples to look for other changes that might occur as a result of altitude exposure. We may also analyze for certain genes. The study may help determine whether experienced mountaineers have developed changes in their genetic material that may help them adapt to altitude. The results from this small study will be used to plan a study involving a much larger group of trekkers in the 2013 Himalayas Xtreme Everest 2 expedition (http://www.xtreme-everest.co.uk/), organized by the Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine at University College, London, England.

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