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Ice Bucket Challenge funds ALS gene discovery

Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery

Date Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The viral fundraising campaign raised more than $100 million for the association. At its peak in 2014, Facebook filled up with videos of people allowing buckets of ice water to be dumped on their heads to raise awareness of ALS. Some of that money helped fund a global effort called Project MinE to help find genetic drivers of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The ALS association says a paper published this week in the journal Nature Genetics reveals Project MinE researchers have identified the NEK1 gene's connection to ALS. Understanding the gene's role will help in developing new target therapy for ALS, experts say.

"Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery," one of the lead researchers, John Landers, Ph.D., of University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, said in a statement. "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."