There are a lot of different trends and challenges that circulate throughout the Internet. 2014 saw people record themselves rising to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Participants help increase awareness of the disease (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) by either donating money to ALS research or dousing themselves in ice water and immediately challenging others.
Two years later, it seems that other than resulting in a multitude of videos of everyday people to major sports teams dousing themselves in ice water, the challenge has helped make a significant breakthrough on ALS Research.
A total of $115 million was raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge and donated to the ALS Association, with two-thirds of the funds being dedicated to research for treatments and a possible cure.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School's Project MinE received one million dollars for research and has discovered a gene that is responsible for the degenerative disease, called NEK1. The identification of NEK1 will help scientists develop better therapy and treatments for people who live with ALS.
"This finding was only possible because of the large number of ALS samples available," said ALS Association Chief Scientist Dr. Lucie Bruijin. "The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled the ALS Association to invest in Project MinE's work to create large biorepositories of ALS biosamples that are designed to allow exactly this kind of research and to produce exactly this kind of result."
Project MinE was part of an international effort to use data from the genomes of 15,000 people with ALS. Bernard Muller, who lives with ALS, and Robbert Jan Stuit came up with the idea for the project.
"The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled us to secure funding from new sources in new parts of the world," said Muller. "Thankfully, the ALS Association brought Project MinE to the United States... I'm incredibly pleased with the discovery of the NEK1 gene adding another step towards our ultimate goal, eradicating this disease from the face of the earth."
ALS is a neurological disease that causes nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to gradually deteriorate. Within a few years of the initial diagnosis, people can lose their ability to breathe, resulting in their death.
The NEK1 is the third gene that has been discovered to help further ALS research due to the funds raised during the Ice Bucket Challenge.