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The Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Did Make A Difference

Think back to 2014: What do you remember? The finale of How I Met Your Mother? Ellen DeGeneres’s infamous Oscar’s selfie? The marriage of Kim and Kanye?

How about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Two years ago, everyone’s social media feeds were full of friends and celebrities alike participating in this viral video phenomenon—If challenged, you had to either donate to the ALS Association or pour a bucket full of cold ice over your head (although many participants did both).

The movement was criticized by many who claimed that raising awareness of the disease didn’t solve the problem—but it turns out that, nearly two years later, progress is actually being made using the donated funds.
ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disorder. According to Buzzfeed News, over time the disease depletes nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to loss of muscle control, paralysis and the inability to breathe.

According to CNN, it usually takes between two and five years for the disease to take the life of a patient, but after two-thirds of the nearly $115 million in donations from Ice Bucket Challengers went to cure research, scientists have made a significant step forward.

The ALS Association reported that scientists have identified a new gene, called “NEK1,” that is linked to contraction of the disease. The finding of this gene means that researchers can now target it when developing medicines and therapies to help treat ALS.

Although this finding doesn’t directly lead to a full cure (yet), it is a vital step in the right direction.

Michelle Adams is a political writer for HerCampus as well as a successful freelancer, specializing in self-help articles, political op-eds, and millennial lifestyle pieces. She is currently studying for her B.A. in both English and mass communications at Shenandoah University. Visit her personal blog at http://michelleadamsblog.com, or connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/madamsblog or Facebook at http://facebook.com/michelleadamsblog.
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