The Ice Bucket Challenge, which flooded social media to become the top viral campaign two summers ago, is being acknowledged as the cause of a new gene discovered behind the neurodegenerative disease, says researchers.
The challenge that raised hundreds of millions for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, involved participants dumping ice water over their heads, and posting the proof to social media. Anyone who successfully completed the challenge earned the right to challenge friends; anyone who didn’t buck up to the challenge could donate to ALS research instead.
It was a phenomenon that swept social media, getting celebrities and athletes from all over challenging one another. Millions worldwide took part in the 2014 challenge, which attracted over 400 million views on social media.
According to the Washington-based ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised $220 million USD worldwide. The money raised from the challenge money funded the largest ever study of inherited ALS and identified a new gene, NEK1. The ALS Association says this gene ranks amongst the most common that contributes to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
This recent discovery of the NEK1 gene thrust the Ice Bucket Challenge back into the viral spotlight, once again becoming one of the top trending topics on Twitter.
“Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery,” said John Landers of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The study was led by both Landers and Jan Veldink of University Medical Center Utrecht, which involved 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 said in a statement.
Their research was published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics this week.