On July 15, 2014, an idea was formed as a way to bring attention and raise money for the cure to ALS, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was a complicated disease that was hard to explain to anyone who asked, and as a result, researchers and scientists lacked the funds they needed to study its effects and search for a way to fight back. There have never been any survivors of ALS, and family and friends who were watching their loved ones suffer saw the social media platform for what it was: a way to raise awareness.
The “ice bucket challenge” consisted of something very simple. People would film themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads and tag friends, challenging them to do the same, in the name of ALS and searching for a cure. People who didn’t want to do the challenge could donate to the cause instead, and many celebrities donated as well as did the challenge, spreading the word farther and farther.
As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for research, and scientists have finally had a major breakthrough.
Researchers working with the University of Massachusetts Medical School, “Project MinE,” discovered the gene responsible for ALS. They have identified it as NEK1, now the most common gene that contributes to the disease. Their discovery has given scientists another tool for targeted therapy development.
They are hopeful as they continue to work towards eradicating the disease off of the face of the Earth.