The ice bucket challenge really worked after all

  • In just two months of the campaign, ALS Association received $115 million cash donation
  • This helped drive the research for a cure to ALS
  • Among those funded was a research by the University of Massachusetts Medical School that identified the specific gene that causes the disease

In 2014, citizens online went crazy dumping buckets of ice cold water into their heads to campaign for donations for a research initiative on a degenerative disease called ALS.

The campaign that has gone viral actually went successful; driving over $115 million of donations as announced by ALS Association last Monday, July 25.

Of the donated funds, 67% went to research for a cure to ALS, also called the Lou Gehrig’s disease, that causes nerve cells to deteriorate impeding critical bodily functions such as breathing, and thus leading to death.

ALS Association invested one million dollars of the donation to Project MinE, which was an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Medical School to specify the cause of the disease.

It turns out a gene named NEK1 is present in both inherited and random acquisition of the disease. Although it is only associated with 3% of the cases of ALS.

“It helps us understand what’s triggering this and can help us better find a treatment,” said ALS Association executive vice-president of communications and development Brian Frederick. However, he noted that: “It’s still very early in our understanding of this particular gene, and we still have ways to go with understanding ALS generally.”

Meanwhile, ALS Association chief scientist Dr. Lucie Bruijin has all her gratitude to the donors.

“The sophisticated gene analysis that led to this finding was only possible because of the large number of ALS samples available,” she was quoted by CNN.

“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,” she added.