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Ice Bucket Challenge Donations Lead To Significant Gene Discovery: Researchers

The researchers behind Project MinE attribute much of the project's funding to the ice bucket challenge, which helped the project secure funding from new places and parts of the world

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    The ice bucket challenge became a phenomenon in the of summer 2014, and the boost in funding it brought about helped lead to a significant discovery in the study of the ALS disease, according to a paper published Monday in Nature Genetics.

    The donations flooded in as people across the world doused themselves in buckets of ice water, then challenged others to do the same. The videos of the challenge went so viral with Oprah, LeBron James, Bill Gates and many more celebrities taking part.

    Though some dismissed the viral challenge as "slacktivism," the ALS Association notes on its website that the challenge raised $115 million for research in just eight weeks.

    Apparently, it's had an effect: Researchers with Project MinE's global gene sequencing effort, which is funded by the ALS Association, conducted a large study of the inherited disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and ALS, and were able to identify a new gene that contributes to it, according to the new paper.

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    More than 80 researchers from 11 countries contributing to the discovery, which may help scientists develop targeted therapy for ALS, according to a news release.

    The researchers behind Project MinE attribute much of the project's funding to the ice bucket challenge, which helped the project secure funding from new places and parts of the world.

    "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," researcher Lucie Bruijn said in the news release.

    ALS causes damage to nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The progressive neurodegenerative disease, acquired by genetics in only 10 percent of ALS cases, affects muscle movement and eventually causes paralysis and death, usually within two to five years of diagnosis.