The Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral two years ago, raising hundreds of millions of dollars, has helped identify a new gene behind the neurodegenerative disease ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, researchers say.
The challenge involved people pouring ice-cold water over their heads, posting video on social media, and donating funds for research on the condition, whose sufferers include British physicist Stephen Hawking.
The challenge raised $220 million worldwide, according to the Washington-based ALS Association. News of the gene discovery again sent Ice Bucket Challenge viral, proving one of the top trending topics on Twitter on Wednesday.
What is ALS? What have the scientists found? How will this help? Below is the definitive guide to the answers you have been looking for:
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a disease of the nervous system that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.
What the money funded
Some of that money helped fund a global effort to help find genetic drivers of the condition called Project MinE.
As part of the project, more than 80 researchers in 11 countries got together to find ALS risk genes in families that were affected by the disease.
What they found
The ALS Association says a paper published this week in the journal Nature Genetics reveals Project MinE researchers have identified the NEK1 gene’s connection to ALS.
How this will help?
According to ALS Association, understanding the gene’s role will help develop new target therapy for ALS.