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‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ leads to ALS breakthrough

/ 03:30 PM July 27, 2016

Who could not forget the social media fever where random people, including Filipinos, filmed themselves as they bathe their bodies with ice-cold water from a bucket?

The viral Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge that ignited and thrilled people across the US has “served its purpose.” Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and ALS Association have made a scientific breakthrough in ALS history by discovering a gene that can aid them in searching for the disease’s cutting-edge remedy.

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge began as an American social media craze that made global faces like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO and philanthropist Bill Gates and other Hollywood celebrities like Oprah take part and donate for its projects.

One of these was Project MinE, an initiative where researchers sequenced genomes from 15, 000 people. It was purely funded by donations from the viral ice bucket phenomenon. The donations, which poured in like “water from an ice bucket,” amounted to $115 million (P5.4 billion).

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The project team announced on Monday that they had identified a new gene named NEK1, which is believed to lead them to treatment possibilities for the neurodegenerative disorder, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, The Guardian and NBC affiliate KFOR reported. NEK1 is associated with 3% of ALS cases but is existent in both inherited and sporadic forms of the disease.

Bernard Muller, the project’s founder, said in a statement, “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled us to secure funding from new sources in new parts of the world. This transatlantic collaboration supports our global gene hunt to identify the genetic drivers of ALS.”

The findings, which included contributions from 80 scientists from 11 nations, are published in the journal Nature Genetics.  Gianna Francesca Catolico

TOPICS: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
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