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Your Ice Bucket Challenge videos led to new breakthroughs in ALS research

Think back to a simpler time… the summer of 2014. We weren’t arguing about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; we were too busy dumping buckets of ice water on our heads.

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Yep, the good ol’ Ice Bucket Challenge. Though the exact origins of it are a little fuzzy, Slate reported that it “came from a dare that was circulating among a group of pro athletes, including golfer Greg Norman and motorcycle racer Jeremy McGrath,” and golfer Chris Kennedy was the first to focus it on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord.

And the whole thing just took off from there, eventually leading to $200 million in donations to the ALS Association.

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And at least $1 million of those donated dollars helped fund breakthrough research. According to the ALS Association, researchers with Project MinE found a new gene, NEK1, that is now believed to be one of the most common contributors to ALS.

“The discovery of NEK1 highlights the value of ‘big data’ in ALS research,” the Association wrote on its website. “Now the next steps are to understand the role of NEK1 in ALS disease. Researchers funded by the ALS Association – using your generous donations – are already taking steps towards this by developing novel NEK1 mouse models that will be shared with the entire ALS community.”

Could this mean a cure for ALS is in sight? The Association is hopeful.

“Be sure to look out for more gene discoveries out of Project MinE in the near future,” the Association added. “Together, we will find a treatment and a cure for ALS.”

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