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Study the limits of the human organism at altitude

theJanuary 19, 2020-Sevim Sonmez– Sant


Initiated in 2018, a scientific and humanitarian adventure is supported by the Altitude health mountain chair supported by the UGA foundation in the highest city in the world, at 5,300 m above sea level.

Destination: La Rinconada au Prou, for the scientific team led by Samuel Vergs, Inserm researcher in the Hypoxia and pathophysiology laboratory. Objective: to set up a research program of several years on the impact of life at altitude on the health of local populations. A phmre laboratory to carry out biological tests, measurements and samples was thus installed in the heart of the city of more than 50,000 inhabitants.

We are the first scientific expedition in the world to go to the highest city in the world where the inhabitants live with half less oxygen than Grenoble. The objective of the study is to understand how they can live in extreme conditions with hypoxia, knowing that until then we thought that man could not live permanently more than 5000 m above sea level, explains Samuel Vergs, manager and coordinator of expedition 5 300.

What adaptations and what mechanisms can allow such a life at altitude? These are the questions that this expedition attempts to answer. However, the scientific team has discovered that part of this Pruvian population has specific pathologies linked to this lack of oxygen.

Treatment administration

After last year’s mission which highlighted adaptations of the heart and the brain to fight against this important production of red blood cells, the scientific team will resume the road for the Rinconada at the end of January to try to treat the sick population, by testing the effectiveness of certain drugs. Its mission will be to find out why certain inhabitants are more sensitive to the lack of oxygen than others by carrying out different genetic, hematological and cardiovascular tests on more than 100 volunteer volunteers.

The drugs which will be administered to them have been selected in particular according to their price and their accessibility so that the local population can use them independently.

This expedition is funded by people from the Universit Grenoble Alpes foundation and is carried out in partnership with Inserm. The Altitude Mountain Health Chair represents a budget of around
150,000 a year.

Svim Sonmez



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