Remember that Ice Bucket Challenge trend that happened in 2014? Well, it worked — again!
Scientists have attributed the emergence of an important ALS breakthrough in part to the money raised by celebrities being doused with water.
The ALS Association issued a statement heralding the news: "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Donations Lead to Significant Gene Discovery: Largest-ever study of inherited ALS identifies new ALS gene, NEK1."
What Is ALS?
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and "is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord," the organization explains.
What starts as a loss of muscle movement progresses to paralysis and death usually within two to five years.
The discovery by Project MinE was led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. The findings allow researchers to target NEK1, which is now considered one of the most common genes that contribute to the disease, in developing ALS therapies.
Social Media Celebrates ALS Breakthrough News
Among the famous faces hailing the breakthrough were "Song of Ice and Fire" author George R.R. Martin, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, former Teen Wolf actor Charlie Carver, Constantine actor Matt Ryan, HLN's Michaela Pereira, as well as a good number of other national and local media personalities.
"All those buckets of ice may have helped put the freeze on ALS," Martin wrote on his blog. "No, it's not a cure... but it's one battle one in the war against a truly horrible disease. And I am so pleased that my friends and I could do our tiny little bit, with all the others around the world, in bringing this about."
About the Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge, a summer 2014 fundraising campaign in which untold numbers of famous people and regular Joes were filmed having buckets of ice water dumped over their heads, raised over $100 million in donations over a 30-day period in summer 2014, according to the ALS Association. In October that year, the organization put $21.7 million toward six programs to find a cure, and $12.5 million in matching donations brought the total funding to $34.2 million.
The organization also funds programs to help people living with ALS, supports public education and pursues public policy and advocacy initiatives.
Of the total raised, $1 million went to Project MinE, the first and largest genome sequencing program, which involved 16 countries. The ALS Association Georgia Chapter, The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter and New Amsterdam City Swim also contributed funding to Project MinE.
"From previous studies, we know that NEK1 functions in multiple roles in neurons (i.e. cells of the brain) including maintaining the neuron’s cytoskeleton, which gives it its shape and promotes transport of molecules within it," wrote Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., chief scientist of The ALS Association, in a blog post.
"It also has roles in regulating the membrane of the mitochondrion, which is the machine that supplies energy to neurons and helps repair DNA that was damaged within. Importantly, all of these cell functions have been found to contribute to ALS in some way and represent potential drug targets. With today’s announcement, we can confirm the association between mutations in NEK1 and ALS."
Funding from the Ice Bucket Challenge also contributed to two previous discoveries.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you known anyone who suffered from ALS? Does the news of the Ice Bucket Challenge's effectiveness encourage you to make more charitable contributions? Let us know what you think in the comments!