Ice Bucket Challenge funds major breakthrough in ALS research

‘It is a prime example of the success that can come from the combined efforts of so many people’

Sadie Levy Gale
Wednesday 27 July 2016 15:14
Comments
Frankie Dettori and Clare Balding take part in the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ at York racecourse on August 22, 2014.
Frankie Dettori and Clare Balding take part in the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ at York racecourse on August 22, 2014.

Cynics may have dismissed the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign as a stunt, but it helped fund research that has led to an important breakthrough.

A study given $1m (£760,000) raised by the ALS Association's campaign has led to the discovery of a gene that appears to be behind some cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

The Challenge, which encouraged people to dunk a bucket of iced water over their heads in order to solicit donations, raised more than $100m (£76m) in a month, and was able to support multiple research projects.

President Barack Obama Rejects The Ice Bucket Challenge As Justin Timberlake And Other Stars Get Soaked

One of which was Massachusetts University Medical School’s Project MinE, which has now identified the role of a gene called NEK1 in ALS, also called motor neurone disease or Lou Gehrig's disease in the US..

It is only associated with 3 per cent of all ALS cases, but it is present in both the familial and sporadic forms of the disease.

Beckham, Cowell and Gates take on ice bucket challenge - London Live

Its variants could help researchers understand and develop new possible treatments for ALS sufferers.

Dr. John Landers, the leader of Project MinE, said in a statement: “Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery.

“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. This kind of collaborative study is, more and more, where the field is headed.”

The study was the largest-ever examination of familial ALS, involving contributions from 80 researchers in 11 countries.

"The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled us to secure funding from new sources in new parts of the world," Bernard Muller, founder of Project MinE and ALS patient, said.

"This transatlantic collaboration supports our global gene hunt to identify the genetic drivers of ALS."

Dozens of celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Rita Ora, Mark Zuckerberg, Anna Wintour and Robert Downey Jr, took part in the challenge.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in