Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? It’s Paying Big Dividends!
August 18, 2016
By John Pennett
It’s been 2 years since millions posted funny yet “chilling” videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. The Ice Bucket Challenge was created to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a degenerative disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and kills approximately half of those diagnosed within 2 years.
The challenge became a viral sensation during the summer of 2014. More than 17 million videos were posted, which were seen by nearly half a billion people. The challenge ultimately raised $220 million, most of which was designated for research to treat and cure the disease.
Donations from the Ice Bucket Challenge led to the founding of Project MinE, a global gene sequencing initiative where scientists in 11 countries studied thousands of ALS patients. These scientists were able to identify a gene common among those with the disease: NEK1. This may help researchers develop a gene therapy to treat the disease as well as possibly improve the quality of life for those living with ALS.
According to the ALS Association, this is not the first breakthrough using research dollars from the Ice Bucket Challenge. Last year, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered the protein TDP-43, an important marker of those with ALS.