How The Ice Bucket Challenge Has Changed ALS Research

Last summer was full of people dumping buckets of ice on their heads in the name of funding ALS research. A year later, it looks like it was totally worth it.

The Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $100 million, according to the ALS Association, which is huge when you compare it to the $2.8 million it raised during the same period last year.

And it turns out that this funding has already led to some exciting advances and discoveries in just a year — a very short period of time in the field of medical research. During a Reddit AMA, researcher Jonathan Ling opened up about how helpful the Ice Bucket Challenge has been.

“I remember reading a lot of stories about people complaining that the ice bucket challenge was a waste and that scientists weren’t using the money to do research, etc. I assure you that this is absolutely false,” he wrote. “All of your donations have been amazingly helpful and we have been working tirelessly to find a cure.”

In case you need a refresher, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a fatal disease that attacks nerve cells responsible for controlling muscles and progresses quickly — most people with ALS die within 3 to 5 years after being diagnosed, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Since the massive fundraiser, researchers have been able to further investigate TDP-43, a protein in cells that has a link to ALS. Thanks to all the donations, Ling and researchers were able to confirm that TDP-43 isn’t doing its job in 97% of all ALS cases.

Here’s how Ling explains TDP-43 in his AMA:

DNA is located in the nucleus of a cell. You can think of a nucleus as a library —> Read More