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Scientists Credit Ice Bucket Challenge With Exciting ALS Breakthrough

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We now finally have something that we can build a therapeutic strategy [with] for people with ALS,” Phillip Wong, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, says in the video below, just before a bucket of ice water was dumped on his head.

We all remember how last summer the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had people all over the world, including celebrities, dumping buckets of freezing water on themselves and donating money to fight the progressive neurodegenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better know as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The awareness and fundraising campaign was wildly successful, with the ALS Foundation raising more than $100 million in just 30 days last summer, whereas in the past they’d only raised a fraction of that ($2.8 million) in the same time period, according to an ALS Association press release.

Now, a new study, published by Johns Hopkins researchers last week, credits the Ice Bucket Challenge with helping them make a big breakthrough in the quest for treatment and a cure, BBC News reported. Specifically, there’s now a better understanding a protein called TDP-43, which is dysfunctional in 97 percent of cases of ALS, according to a post the researchers put on Reddit.

Wong and fellow researcher Jonathan Ling explain in the video below how the scientific community has spent a decade trying to better understand this particular protein. Now, they may have finally figured it out thanks to the extra funding that came from the Ice Bucket Challenge. The viral campaign came at a critical time and helped facilitate this discovery, they say.

Understanding TDP-43 better could mean great things for future ALS patients.

The best part is it (the malfunction of the protein) can be fixed,” Ling says in the video below. “So with any luck, this could lead to the possibility of a cure or at least a slowing down of this terrible disease.”

Watch the excited researchers explain their discovery below, right before participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge: 

Check out the full report in the Science Journal here or read this AMA on Reddit for more information.

Originally published: August 21, 2015
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