Ice Bucket Challenge Leads to ALS Breakthrough

VOA News

Remember all those viral videos of people dumping cold water all over themselves to raise awareness about Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS?

It turns out it actually did a lot of good by funding six research efforts.

It was 2014, and it was called the Ice Bucket Challenge. While initially dismissed as a stunt, the movement generated $115 million for research that led to the discovery of a gene that contributes to an inherited form of the disease.

The gene, called NEK1, could shed light on the disease and lead to better treatments. Inherited ALS accounts for about 10 percent of ALS cases, but researchers think other genes may play a role in more cases.

The study of NEK1’s role in ALS was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

«The sophisticated gene analysis that led to this finding was only possible because of the large number of ALS samples available,» said Lucie Bruijn of the ALS Association.

Over 17 million people shared ice bucket videos on Facebook that were watched by an estimated 440 million people. Some of the notable celebrities who took the challenge included former president George W. Bush, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and basketball star Lebron James.