Thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which did actually help raising about $115 million, a group of researchers was able to identify a gene implicated in the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a disease that attacks neurons in the Brain and Spinal Cord, the disease the World-Famous Stephen Hawking suffers from.
This discovery only applies to the Hereditary ALS cases, which are the minority of the cases, accounting for about 10 percent of the patients. The group which is part of the Project MinE from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, used the genomes of more than a thousand people with the condition with at least a familiar with the same diagnose; then they compared them to the genomes of more than 7300 controls. The mutant gene NEK1 identified by the scientists was detected in 3% of the ALS cases, and it seems to be involved in a lot of functions of the body, including DNA-damage responses and the shape and structure of the nerves.
Even though the gene isn’t the cause for most cases of ALS, it may help scientists to get clues to help them figure out the mechanism. So the Ice Bucket Challenge which went viral all over the Internet around July 2014, helped raise awareness for ALS, and since many celebrities participated, it helped to reach more people.