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The ice bucket challenge: It actually made a huge difference

Around €104 million was raised through people dumping water over their heads.

Former Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke doing the challenge in 2014
Former Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke doing the challenge in 2014
Image: Sam Boal/

VIRAL CHARITY CAMPAIGN the ice bucket challenge was not without its detractors.

Launched in the summer of 2014, the viral awareness campaign for neurondegenerative disease ALS was derided in some quarters as being more about raising the profiles of the people sharing videos than the condition itself.

Now, a scientific breakthrough carried out thanks to the money raised through the campaign looks set to put paid to such cynicism.

The ALS Association raised $115 million (€104 million) through the challenge, more than two thirds of which went on research.

In a new study funded by the money scientists have identified gene NEK1 as one of the most common genes that contributes to the condition.

Researchers will now be able to work on developing a treatment for it.

The new research has been carried out by Project MinE is published in scientific journal Nature Genetics.

Its focus is on the inherited form of the condition which impacts on around 10% of patients, but its findings are expected to have a broader impact on treatments.

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The study took contributions from 80 researchers in 11 countries and was lead by Dr John Landers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Dr Jan Veldink from the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Starting in October 2014, ice bucket challenge-funded Project MinE has looked at samples from at least 15,000 people with ALS from around the world.

Speaking about the success of the ice bucket challenge in providing funding, Dr Landers said:

It is a prime example of the success that can come from the combined efforts of so many people, all dedicated to finding the causes of ALS. This kind of collaborative study is, more and more, where the field is headed.

Read: Remember that time we were all chucking ice water over each other?

Also: Irish people were feeling super generous last year

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