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Ice Bucket Challenge helps fund major scientific discovery


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For all the non-believers and the sceptics, you were wrong about the ineffectiveness of the Ice Bucket Challenge, as it has been revealed that it helped result in a major scientific breakthrough.

I’m sure we all remember the 2014 viral Facebook campaign that had everyone from your next-door neighbour to Oprah Winfrey and Eminem getting ice-water dumped on their heads raise awareness about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS.

There has been a recent important gene discovery in the progressive neurodegenerative disease, according to the ALS association. Scientists have identified a new gene, called NEK1, that contributes to the disease and now doors have been opened to developing potential therapies for ALS.

Many people criticised the challenge a couple of years ago, scorning it for its “slacktivism” and being just a social media trend that wouldn’t actually result in anything. Well, contrary to popular belief, all of those videos posted on Facebook and donations made have funded six research projects, raised $115million (£87.7million) and now helped to reach a major scientific discovery.

This was the largest ever study of familial (inherited) ALS ever, and it involved contributions from more than 80 researchers in 11 countries.

The Ice Bucket Challenge hasn’t been the only successful social media fundraising campaign; the #nomakeupselfie (also circa 2014) raised more than £8m for Cancer Research UK and supported the charity financially so much that they carried out 10 more clinical trials than they would have been able to to otherwise.

So, maybe we should think twice before dismissing all those trending hashtags - they might just be helping to save a life.  

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