The Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise funds that contributed to the discovery of a gene linked to ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons in the brain and the spinal cord.
The Challenge, which went viral on social media during the summer of 2014, calls on participants to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads in order to raise awareness for the ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Ronda Rousey and LeBron James were among the athletes who took part in the Challenge, helping increase its popularity.
More than $100 million was raised for the ALS Association as a result of the Challenge, $1 million of which contributed to the Project MinE research project.
“The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled us to secure funding from new sources in new parts of the world,” said Bernard Muller, who helped initiate the research project and personally suffers from the disease. “This transatlantic collaboration supports our global gene hunt to identify the genetic drivers of ALS. I’m incredibly pleased with the discovery of the NEK1 gene adding another step towards our ultimate goal, eradicating this disease from the face of the earth.”
Researchers found that the NEK1 gene is present in 3% of ALS cases in North America and Europe. This new information will advance the understanding of the disease and aid in the development of new therapies.