Researcher credits Ice Bucket Challenge with ALS breakthrough

ALS researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have made a major breakthrough.

Governor Baker, right center, and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, third from left, were among participants in the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer along side Challenge inspiration Pete Frates.
Governor Baker, right center, and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, third from left, were among participants in the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer along side Challenge inspiration Pete Frates. –Charles Krupa / AP

An ALS researcher told Nicholas Kristof that money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge helped his team make a major discovery in how the disease works.

“The funding certainly facilitated the results we obtained,’’ Philip Wong, a Professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins told Kristof.

“Every August until there’s a cure,’’ that’s the catch phrase of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Last summer, videos of people pouring ice water over themselves to raise money for ALS research dominated social media timelines.Skeptics chimed in voicing concerns that raising awareness through the challenge was not enough to combat the condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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But critics may have spoken too soon and may have underestimated the importance of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Wong lead a research team that may have found a protein that could return affected cells back to normal.

The $220 million in donations to ALS research last year helped to speed up Wong’s research according to Kristof.

Kristof dove into the scepticism and the impacts of the challenge in a The New York Times column.

The neurodegenerative disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, 15,000 people nationwide suffer it’s debilitating effects. Kristof noted the use of the term “slacktivism,’’ which got tossed around with similar online campaigns like the Stop Kony movement.

Read Kristof’s full New York Times Op-Ed here.

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