The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has led to a major scientific breakthrough
When it went viral in 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was both embraced and derided - on the one hand, it raised awareness (with the aim to raise funds) for research into the devastating illness that is motor neurone disease (MND), known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the US; on the other, many questioned how affective social media 'slacktivism' campaigns really are - is anyone really paying any attention beyond the sight of friends and celebrities dousing themselves in ice-cold water?
Yes, as it turns out: the Ice Bucket Challenge, which saw celebrities ranging from Anna Wintour to Amy Schumer participate, raised an incredible $220 million globally. Even more incredibly: that money was used to fund a number of research projects into MND/ALS, with one - Project MinE - announcing a major breakthrough this week.
Published in medical journal Nature Genetics this week, the study's researchers have discovered a new gene - NEK1 - found in some MND cases. "It helps us understand what's triggering this and can help us better find a treatment," says ALS Association company executive Brian Frederick.
Currently, there is no cure for MND, which attacks the nerve cells controlling muscles that enable people to undertake basic critical functions, like moving, breathing, speaking and swallowing. Social media, you've done good.
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