Last Summer’s Ice Bucket Videos Actually Made A Difference

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If you were one of the ice-bucket-challenge resisters last summer (hi), get ready to feel really bad about it. But also, get ready to feel really good about the wonders of science. The over-$220 million the videos raised is partially responsible for a groundbreaking new finding concerning the way certain proteins fail to function in ALS patients. Jonathan Ling, an ALS researcher at Johns Hopkins, led a Reddit AMA two weeks back. He proudly announced that with this funding, his team was able to look closely into the protein TDP-43, which they suspected was at fault for many complications concerning the disease. Lo and behold, TDP-43 completely loses its ability to function in “97% of ALS cases” in mice, according to the researchers. As for what this discovery means for the future, it could lead to some sort of treatment that replicates what TDP-43 is supposed to do. What’s crazy is that even with last summer’s heavy criticism of “Slactivism” ("a convenient way for people to act like they're making a difference without achieving anything at all,” explains The Washington Post), the trendy challenge turned out to be a catalyst for legitimate medical progress. So it becomes about low risks aiding high risks. As in, take an inconsequential ice shower and fund the most out-there (and possibly game-changing) studies. Says Ling, “The best medicines come from a full understanding of a disease, and without the financial stability to do high-risk, high-reward research, none of this would be possible!”

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