Donations from the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge have funded a significant breakthrough in the research of motor neurone disease (MND).
Despite being labelled a stunt by some critics, the Ice Bucket Challenge, which involved participants being doused in a bucket of icy water, has funded a significant breakthrough in MND research. According to the BBC, more than £87 million was raised to support multiple global research projects into the neurodegenerative disease. One of these projects, Project MinE, an international initiative which aims to sequence 15,000 MND genomes, has now identified the role of a gene called NEK1, a contributor to the disease. Project MinE is the first and largest genome sequencing effort to date, involving more than 80 researchers in 11 countries in a collaborative effort to discover new genes. The identification of the gene NEK1 allows scientists to try and uncover potential drug targets.
MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease that attacks the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work. It can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk and eventually breathe. It has no cure. The Ice Bucket Challenge also raised more than £7 million for the MND Association, the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning. The charity has some staff based at CAN Mezzanine’s Old Street office, with its National Office based in Northampton.
It is widely believed that the Ice Bucket Challenge was started in July 2014 in the USA by Chris Kennedy who decided that the money raised from his challenge should go to MND charities because his cousin is affected by the disease. The challenge soon went viral on social media after receiving endorsement from Pete Frates, who is living with MND, and is a former basketball player. Over 17 million people, including many celebrities, uploaded videos to Facebook to show them taking part.
Sally Light, Chief Executive of the MND Association, said: “Motor neurone disease is a devastating disease and kills more than half of people within two years of diagnosis. It’s fantastic that the money raised globally from the Ice Bucket Challenge has contributed towards the discovery of this new gene.
“It’s another step towards understanding so much more about what is such a complicated disease. A huge thank you to everyone who poured iced water over their heads; their support is really making a difference in our fight against MND.”