Breakthrough the Ice

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raises money for ground breaking gene discovery

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The social media craze of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, has managed to raise vital funds for gene discovery in the progressive neurodegenerative disease. Scientists have discovered a new gene that contributes to the disease, NEK1.

ALS is also known as motor neurone disease (MND).

The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $115m (£87.7m) and involved people pouring ice and water over their bodies, then sharing the footage on social media. Celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift took part in the trend. Although criticised as a stunt the challenge managed to fund six research projects.

Research by Project MinE, published in Nature Genetics, is the biggest study of inherited ALS. More than 80 researchers in 11 countries sought out ALS risk genes from families with the disease.

The discovery of gene NEK1 means scientists can now work on a gene therapy to treat it.

More than 17 million people uploaded videos of the challenge on Facebook which have been watched by 440 million people globally.

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