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Ice Bucket Challenge: Money Raised Significantly Boosted ALS Research


According to a Johns Hopkins study, money raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge has significantly boosted research into ALS.

Ice Bucket Challenge campaign went viral during 2014.

They say it has helped them to understand more about a dysfunctional protein – TDP-43 – a mystery scientists have been studying for decades.

ALS is a rare condition affecting the nervous system.

Social media was awash with videos of celebrities and common people pouring cold water over their heads to raise money for ALS in 2014.

More than 17 million people uploaded videos to Facebook, including many celebrities who rose to the challenge, which were then watched by 440 million people worldwide.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

The study, published by Johns Hopkins researchers in Science journal last week, credits the Ice Bucket Challenge with helping them to unravel the mystery behind a protein called TDP-43, which in more than 90% of ALS cases is dysfunctional.

“For the past decade we’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is doing, and now I think we have finally figured it out,” Jonathan Ling, of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a YouTube video explaining the university’s latest breakthrough.

“The best part is it can be fixed, so with any luck this could lead to the possibility of a cure or at least a slowing down of this terrible disease,” he continues.

Prof. Philip Wong added: “The money came at a critical time when we needed it.”

However, they warned that the work was ongoing and many current ALS sufferers would not necessarily see the benefits of the research.

In the US, the ALS Association – which represents people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and all motor neurone disorders – received $115 million in donations during the months of August and September, when the challenge was at its peak.

The ALS Association says the money helped triple the amount it spends on research every year.

More than 12,000 people in the US have a definite diagnosis of ALS, for a prevalence of 3.9 cases per 100,000 persons in the US general population, according to a report on data from the National ALS Registry.