Remember two years ago when people around the country were pouring buckets of ice water over their heads for ALS research? Well, the popular social media dare paid off.
To recap, in 2014, people dared friends, celebrities, companies, universities and more to pour buckets filled with ice over their heads on social media. Most people followed through with the ice water dare, and donated money to help researchers find a cure for ALS. Eventually, the campaign raised over $115 million to help everyday people with ALS.
After two weeks of fundraising, the College of Pharmacy raised $175, adding to the total of $1,035 the university raised in partnership with the SA. Vice Provost for Accreditation Julie Hixson-Wallace, along with two other College of Pharmacy professors, participated in their own Ice Bucket Challenge.
“It is very gratifying for such a significant discovery to come so quickly from a fundraising effort,” Hixson-Wallace said. “Often when you participate in a charitable event like the Ice Bucket Challenge, you don’t necessarily expect to hear so soon of such positive results that can be directly tied to your efforts, but, as recorded in Luke, Jesus tells us that faith the size of a mustard seed makes nothing impossible.”
According to an article published on the ALS Association’s website, as a result of Ice Bucket Challenge donations, $21.7 million was donated to fund a research project from the University of Massachusetts Medical School called MineE. Through this project, researchers discovered a new gene called NEK1.
The New York Daily News said that more than 80 researchers in 11 countries led by Dr. John Landers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Dr. Jan Veldink of the University Medical Center in the Netherlands tracked genomes of 15,000 people with ALS across the world. This was the largest study of inherited ALS ever.
Many people have heard about ALS or even participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, but most do not know what ALS is. According to the Mayo Clinic, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.
Junior Tylar Trimble’s father was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. She said the new discovery and funding has not affected her family directly, but it has led to a huge push in further research and trials.
“This furthered research has given us more hope in new treatments,” Trimble said. “We continue to pray for a cure and healing to all who have been affected by this terrible disease.”
According to alsa.org, the discovery of NEK1’s link to ALS gives researchers a new target for therapy development, and can help better understand what triggers the disease.