Turns out dumping ice cold buckets of water on our heads was more than just Facebook fodder. For all the naysayers out there who said it was silly “slacktivisim”—listen up. The Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 has directly funded an important gene discovery related to the progressive neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In fact, it’s funded six research projects in total. All of which bring scientists one step closer to curing this horrific disease.
Over 17 million people posted ice-cold video selfies, along with a message to text donations to an ALS charity. With regular folks and celebrities getting in on the dare, ALS groups raised an unbelievable $115 million dollars in just 30 days.
According to a paper published in Nature Genetics, researchers, funded by The ALS Association through ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, have identified a new ALS gene. This gene, NEK1, which now ranks among the most common genes that contribute to the disease, provides scientists with another target for therapy development.
This was the largest-ever study of inherited ALS, and involved contributions from over 80 researchers in 11 countries. It was led by John Landers, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass. and Jan Veldink, Ph.D., of University Medical Center Utrecht, in The Netherlands.
“Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery,” said Dr. Landers. “It is a prime example of the success that can come from the combined efforts of so many people, all dedicated to finding the causes of ALS.”