ALS Research Funded by the Ice Bucket Challenge is Making a Difference

posted: 08/13/15
by: Danny Clemens
PGA golfers take the Ice Bucket Challenge
Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

It was nearly impossible to log onto social networking websites last August without seeing countless videos of your friends dumping buckets of ice water onto their heads.

A cultural phenomenon, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge challenged users to either a) make a small monetary donation to the ALS Association in support of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research efforts or b) pour a bucket of ice water over their head -- all on camera, of course.

After donating or soaking, each user also had to nominate three more friends to complete the challenge. By the end of the summer, the self-perpetuating viral sensation raised more than $100 million for ALS research in the United States alone.

Now, a year later, that money is starting to make an impact.

In a paper recently published in the journal Science, researchers claim to have finally unraveled the mystery behind "misfolded proteins" that have been linked to ALS. During a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, study lead author Jonathan Ling revealed that his research had been partially funded by Ice Bucket Challenge donations:

"I remember reading a lot of stories about people complaining that the ice bucket challenge was a waste and that scientists weren't using the money to do research, etc. I assure you that this is absolutely false. All of your donations have been amazingly helpful and we have been working tirelessly to find a cure. With the amount of money that the ice bucket challenge raised, I feel that there's a lot of hope and optimism now for real, meaningful therapies."

Ling adds that "there's a lag between receiving money and distributing it because smart people need to make sure that they choose the best research proposals to fund, and that takes time."

The Ice Bucket Challenge was not without controversy -- critics called for more transparency in the distribution of donations and challenged whether narcissistic self-congratulation had eclipsed the challenge's original fund- and awareness-raising goals.

H/T Good Magazine

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