Two years ago, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” became a viral sensation as a way to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Celebrities and non-celebrities alike would record themselves getting doused with a huge bucket of icy water and then call out three more people who either had to make a donation toward ALS research or get soaked with a bucket of ice water. A mere two years later, the funds raised during the challenge have made it possible for scientists to take a giant step forward in the fight against this devastating disease.
The challenge netted $100 million for the ALS Association, which in and of itself is quite impressive. One million dollars went to Project MinE. The researchers involved in the project have recently announced that they have discovered a gene common among people with ALS that affects the neurons in the spinal cord and brain.
According to Bernard Muller, an entrepreneur who helped launch the project, “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled us to secure funding from new sources in new parts of the world.”
The researchers found that the gene, called NEK1, was present in roughly three percent of North American and European ALS cases. Muller, who is an ALS patient himself, says he hopes that identifying this gene represents a significant step toward the development of new treatments for ALS and the eventual eradication of the disease.