Think back to a couple of years ago and you will recall the Ice Bucket Challenge trend that went viral across social media, helping raise awareness – and hundreds of millions of dollars – for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Well, according to researchers, the trend has now helped identify a new gene behind the neurodegenerative disease, reported REUTERS.
The challenge saw people pouring ice-cold water over their heads and posting videos of it online, thereby donating funds for research on ALS, whose sufferers include British physicist Stephen Hawking. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Ellen DeGeneres, Benedict Cumberbatch and former US President George W Bush were among the millions of people who took part in the challenge back in 2014, attracting more than 400 million views across social media. In fact, according to the Washington-based ALS Association, the challenge raised $220 million worldwide.
News of the gene discovery again sent the Ice Bucket Challenge viral, proving one of the top trending topics on Twitter on Wednesday. The money accumulated through it financed the largest ever study of inherited ALS and identified a new gene, NEK1, that ranks among the most common genes that contribute to the condition, the ALS Association said in a statement on Monday. “Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery,” said John Landers of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Landers and Jan Veldink of University Medical Center Utrecht led the study, involving researchers in 11 countries. “It is a prime example of the success that can come from the combined efforts of so many people, all dedicated to finding the causes of ALS,” Landers added.
The research was published in the journal Nature Genetics this week and scientists hope that it will provide another potential target for therapy development.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2016.
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