The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Finally Paid Off With A New Discovery

Two summers later, the viral Ice Bucket Challenge has contributed to a medical breakthrough.

While your Facebook feed might have felt oversaturated with videos of friends, family, and celebrities dousing themselves with icy water, there’s no doubt that the ubiquitous stunt worked.

During the successful 2014 campaign to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, more than 17 million people participated in the challenge, and 2.5 million people donated $115 million to the ALS Association, according to CNN.


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Of those funds, the ALS Association donated $1 million to the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Project MinE, whose scientists recently discovered the gene responsible for ALS, according to Daily News. Scientists identified the gene NEK1, which could explain more about how to potentially treat ALS.

The fatal neurological disease is quite common, affecting more than 12,000 people in the U.S. or 3.9 cases per 100,000 persons, according to a 2011 CDC report.

Currently, there is no cure for ALS. One drug treatment, Riluzole, is believed to reduce damage to motor neurons while other treatments, from nutrition to physical therapy, are meant to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for those suffering from the disorder.

If you’re wondering where the rest of those funds are going, CNN reported in 2015 on the ALS Association’s five main spending buckets (from the greatest to the least amount): research, patient and community services, public and professional education, fund-raising, and external processing fees.

[h/t N.Y. Daily News]