The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that exploded on social media last summer to help raise money and awareness for ALS research has resulted in a major breakthrough, scientists at Johns Hopkins University say.
The scientists have reported that they have made a serious break-through in research, which could lead to a cure much sooner. ALS is a rare condition affecting the nervous system.
Last summer, more than 17 million people worldwide took to Instagram and Facebook to add videos of them dumping water on themselves and then encouraging friends to do the same. All totaled, there was more than $115 million dollars raised.
Scientists used the funds to research a complex protein called TDP-43, which in more than 90 per cent of ALS cases, is dysfunctional. In the past, researchers have struggled to understand the role this protein played in maintaining healthy cells.
According to a new study published by Johns Hopkins researchers in the journal Science, when protein clumps together within the cells, it will malfunction, which will ‘lift the brakes on cryptic axons,’ causing a cascade of events that kills brain or spinal cord cells.
“For the past decade we’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is doing, and now I think we have finally figured it out,” Jonathan Ling, of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a YouTube video.
“The best part is it can be fixed, so with any luck this could lead to the possibility of a cure or at least a slowing down of this terrible disease,” he continues.
“The money came at a critical time when we needed it,” professor Philip Wong added.
There is currently about 15,000 people in the US suffering from ALS.