If you threw freezing cold water over yourself as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014, prepare to give yourself one big pat on the back.
Money raised from the social media trend has helped scientists make a discovery that could help people suffering from motor neurone disease (MND), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as it’s known in the US.
The challenge raised more than $100m (£76m) for the ALS Association that summer and the charity has been able to donate funds to a number of research projects since, including Project MinE.
Led by a team at The University of Massachusetts Medical School, the project has discovered the gene NEK1, which is thought to be responsible for the disease.
MND/ALS is a progressive disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
It affects the nerves that control the body’s movement and can affect arms and legs, speech and swallowing, or ability to breathe.
There are many different types of the disease and in the UK, MND is the umbrella term we use to describe it. We use ALS to describe the most common form of MND.
In contrast, ALS is the umbrella term used in the US, but following the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge it’s now being used more often in the UK.
The ALS Association was able to donate $1m to Project MinE, which involved 80 researchers in 11 countries, as a direct result of the challenge.
The researchers behind the project are hopeful the discovery of gene NEK1 can help pave the way for new treatments.
Entrepreneur Bernard Muller, who suffers from the disease, helped to launch the research project.
“The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled us to secure funding from new sources in new parts of the world,” he said, according to ABC News.
“This transatlantic collaboration supports our global gene hunt to identify the genetic drivers of ALS.
“I’m incredibly pleased with the discovery of the NEK1 gene adding another step towards our ultimate goal, eradicating this disease from the face of the earth.”