Scientists recently discovered a gene responsible for ALS. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts were able to fund research thanks to donations collected during the Ice Bucket Challenge. The ALS Association announced the discovery on Monday.

The University of Massachusetts Medical Center received $1 million from the ALS association. They used that money to begin the MinE project to research ALS. Those researchers managed to identify the gene NEK1. Knowing gene sources of ALS helps researchers understand the disease and could potentially lead to new treatment vectors.

Bernard Muller, the founder of Project MinE and an ALS patient himself, said in a statement: “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled us to secure funding from new sources in new parts of the world. This transatlantic collaboration supports our global gene hunt to identify the genetic drivers of ALS.”

The Ice Bucket Challenge began in the summer of 2014. The ALS association started the campaign to raise awareness about the disease: Amyotrophic Lateral sclerosis. In short, the disease causes nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain to degenerate. Currently, about 30,000 Americans are affected by the genetic disease, according to the ALS Association.

The challenge itself was simple and perhaps just a little silly. A person would begin a video accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge. They would then dunk themselves with a bucket of chilled water. After that, the person would nominate three or four friends or family members to take on the challenge.

As intended the campaign went viral and increased the global interest in ALS. As a result, donations for research of ALS increased dramatically. According to the association, the challenge helped raise over $100 million.

This is actually the third gene connected to ALS discovered since the Ice Bucket Challenge began. These breakthroughs are in spite of criticism of the viral campaign. When it became popular in 2014 many critics said the challenge was a waste of water. They also point out that pouring water on one’s head doesn’t actually do anything for research or care. Clearly, that logic is flawed.

Uncategorized