Many remember scrolling through their news feed and seeing video after video of friends completing the ice bucket challenge. Well good news, the endless videos have paid off for researchers.
Researchers have identified a gene found to be very common in people with the deadly ALS disease that affects neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The Ice Bucket Challenge is being credited for raising significant funds to aid in the researcher’s discovery.
The Challenge became a big hit on social media two summers ago. Pete Frates is a former Boston College baseball star that suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was a driving force behind the challenge and was even doused with ice water at a ceremony at Fenway Park.
Other participants, including athletes and celebrities, were then challenged to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads to help raise awareness of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Chris Pratt, Oprah Winfrey and even Lebron James posted creative videos of them completing the challenge and helped spark the trend. While some celebrities, such as President Obama, declined the challenge they still made generous donations to furthering the research of this deadly disease.
The disease damages motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The nerve cells gradually deteriorate resulting in muscles wasting away. This leads to paralysis and death, usually within two to five years. The disease is incurable and researchers are using the funds raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge to try and change that.
More than $100 million in contributions to the ALS Association were made due to the challenge. Of that amount $1 million was donated to the Project MinE research project.
The research project has found NEK1 to be present in three percent of cases in North America and Europe, according to Nature Genetics. This discovery brings new hope to those suffering from ALS as it helps scientists understand the disease further and develop new therapies and treatments.