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British Doctors on Everest Mission Get Bitter Dose

A British team of doctors attempting to conduct tests on Mt Everest,// the highest peak in the world, had to swallow a bitter dose after the Nepal government said the research was illegal.

The Centre for Aviation, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE) at the University College London had announced in 2005 that it would lead an expedition to the 8,848 m peak in 2007 to measure the amount of oxygen in their own blood on the summit as well as test how well their brains, lungs and metabolisms functioned at extreme altitude.

Led by CASE director Mike Grocott, the research was intended to find out more about the changes in the human body when it is pushed to its limits during critical illness on the basis of the changes that take place in extreme environments.

The Xtreme Everest Expedition, comprising researchers working in the fields of anaesthesia, intensive care and remote medicine, planned to set up laboratories on Mt Everest as it went higher up, with the final one at South Col, at an altitude of 8,000 m.

An offshoot of the experiment, Project Everest, aimed to recruit over 1,000 volunteers to measure their heart rates and breathing at high altitudes in order to come up with fitness programmes in the future.

The team, also including cardiovascular geneticist Hugh Montgomery, physician Sundeep Dhillon, clinician Roger McMorrow, diving expert Denny Levett and space expert Kevin Fong generated worldwide media hype when it announced its plans in 2005. However, there was one thing the doctors forgot - to take the permission of the host country.

According to Nirbhay Kumar Sharma, administrative officer of the Nepal Health Research Council, the apex body overseeing all research conducted in the country:

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