It turns out the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon that swept across social media two summers ago actually did some good, besides providing hours of entertainment.
According to the ALS Association in the U.S., a new gene has been identified as a direct result of the $114 million donated through the Ice Bucket Challenge.
The gene is called NEK1, and is now ranked as one of the most common that contributes to ALS. Now that it’s been identified it can provide another possible target for gene therapy development.
The gene was found as part of Project MinE’s global gene sequencing efforts. According to the association, it’s the largest-ever study of inherited ALS, involving work from more than 80 researchers in 11 countries. Inherited ALS only accounts for about 10 per cent of cases, though researchers believe it could have a part in more.
The research was led by Dr. John Landers, of University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass.
“Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery,” said Landers in a news release.
“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 work was published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics this week.
The ALS Association’s new campaign for August 2016 is Every Drop Adds Up.