Ice bucket challenge leads to ALS research breakthrough

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WNCT) – The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a popular social media campaign during the summer of 2014, helped fund a breakthrough study.

Researchers part of Project MinE’s global gene sequencing effort, funded by The ALS Association through ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, have identified a new ALS gene, NEK1, which now ranks among the most common genes that contribute to the disease, providing scientists with another potential target for therapy development.

The paper was published Monday, July 25 in Nature Genetics.

This was the largest-ever study of familial (inherited) ALS and involved contributions from over 80 researchers in 11 countries.

“The discovery of NEK1 highlights the value of ‘big data’ in ALS research,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A. “The sophisticated gene analysis that led to this finding was only possible because of the large number of ALS samples available,” she said. “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled The ALS Association to invest in Project MinE’s work to create large biorepositories of ALS biosamples that are designed to allow exactly this kind of research and to produce exactly this kind of result.”

Another awareness campaign will be launched in August by the ALS Association. The new campaign, called Every Drop Adds Up, pays homage to the Ice Bucket Challenge, visually emphasizes the now iconic “bucket,” and builds on the idea that when people come together they can make big, impossible things happen. Click here to learn more.

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