Ice Bucket Challenge’s 2nd anniversary celebrates its gene discovery

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(CNN)Throwback to 2014, the year of the Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie, Pharrell’s giant hat, and the Ice Bucket Challenge. These fads “broke the internet” (a phrase also coined in 2014) dominating social media feeds across the globe.

But one of these viral pop culture moments is even more relevant today.

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    The gene, identified as NEK1, provides another potential target for therapy development, and brings scientists one step closer to treating the neurological disorder.
    “The sophisticated gene analysis that led to this finding was only possible because of the large number of ALS samples available,” said Dr. Lucie Bruijin, Chief Scientist at the ALS Association. “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled The ALS Association to invest in Project MinE’s work to create large biorepositories of ALS biosamples that are designed to allow exactly this kind of research and to produce exactly this kind of result.”

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    This is the third ALS-related gene researchers have discovered using money from the Ice Bucket Challenge, the organization says. The discovery is unique in that the project that found the gene is led by someone who has ALS.
    Despite being heavily criticized for water waste and dismissed as a form of “slacktivism” (lazy activism), many saw the Ice Bucket Challenge as a campaign driven by a passionate community that capitalized on peer-to-peer fundraising and activism.

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