The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Helped Scientists Discover a New Gene Tied to A.L.S.

“The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Helped Scientists Discover a New Gene Tied to A.L.S.”

When celebrities began pouring ice water over themselves, they were dismissed as “slacktivists,” as if putting them down through Twitter would overshadow the fact that $77 million was raised for A.L.S. research through the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that swept the fundraising world two years ago.

Now, as Katie Rogers says in her article, it seems as if “those much-mocked Ice Bucket Challenge videos helped do a lot of good.” Scientists have recently discovered NEK1, one of the most common genes that contribute to A.L.S., a disease which “causes a rapid breakdown in the ability to control muscle movement,” with the research money. The monumental discovery means that future treatments will be able to target wider groups of people rather than the focused treatments that were required in the past.

Although the Challenge may have appealed to our vanity rather than our compassion, there is no disputing the fact that it has worked wonderfully in providing much-needed awareness and financial support to a crucial health issue. It is, in fact, a model for campaigners to consider when preparing their own fundraisers. I strongly believe in the capacity of people to do good, but often it takes an enticing carrot to goad them in the right direction. The Challenge, therefore, has been an ingenious method to advance significant medical research and should be celebrated–rather than being derided.

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