News & Views
The Ice Bucket Challenge: Two Years Later

Remember when your newsfeed was clogged with videos of all your friends (and more than a few celebrities) dousing themselves with freezing cold water? Looks like it was worth it. The $115 million raised by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has led to a breakthrough in medical research, which might hold the key to understanding what causes the illness.


Using funds from the social nomination challenge, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have identified a mutant gene which may be responsible for cases of hereditary amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — which accounts for roughly 10 per cent of patients.

It is hoped that this discovery will lead to future developments in ALS research.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, started by ALS sufferer Pete Frates, swept across social media in July 2014 and sparked a number of imitators. It came under criticism for encouraging attention-seeking slacktivism rather than genuinely being about social good — with some celebrity participants even forgetting to mention the illness in their nomination videos.

But this result goes some way towards countering such claims; whether people got involved to help the cause, or just to boost their own profile, the fact remains that the money they raised has funded a potentially pivotal moment in ALS research. So anybody who got drenched in ice water probably feels warm and fuzzy right now.

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