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NOT IN VAIN! The Ice Bucket Challenge


About this time last year, a whole lot of people from all works of life voluntarily bathed with ice-containing buckets in what was popularly known as the "Ice Bucket Challenge" all in  a bid to raise awareness and money for research the medical condition Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis A-L-S , also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. A year and over $220 million donations later we have dividends to show.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins , who took the challenge themselves and got soaked, say they've made a major breakthrough in A-L-S research, and they credit it largely to the massive influx of public interest and the funds raised through the movement.

Jonathan Ling and Philip Wong, researchers at John Hopkins say they have discovered how a brain protein called TDP-43 linked to A-L-S works and with it, have developed a potential treatment for the disease.

About a decade ago, researchers discovered people with A-L-S often had clumps of TDP-43 protein outside the nucleus of their brain cells. But it was unknown whether it was the cause or the result of the degenerative disease.

In experiments using mice, they made a protein to mimic TDP-43 and put it into the nerve cells, or neurons.The cells came back to life, indicating the protein problem is at least part of the reason the nervous system slowly dies off in A-L-S. This sparked interest that the treatment could be used to slow down or halt the progression of the conditionThe team of researchers at Hopkins already have funding to put their protein into human trials, all because so many people were willing to get wet.

 In spite of the the overwhelming rave on social media about the disease, thanks to the "Ice Bucket Challenge", A-L-S is a relatively rare disease , with about 7000 deaths in the United States  from the disease each year. According to the ALS Asssociation website, about 15 people are newly diagnosed of the disease on  daily basis  and more than 5,600 yearly. It was partly surprising to find hundreds of celebrities, politicians and personalities "gladly" get caught up (and drenched) for the cause. The campaign helped the ALS association raise $115 million last year.

The average life expectancy in persons  with ALS is two to five years from the time of diagnosis.  However, with recent advances in research and improved medical care, many patients are living longer and with more productive lives. Half of all those affected live at least three years or more after diagnosis.  About 20 percent live five years or more, and up to ten percent will survive more than ten years. 

Ref: abcnews, BostonGlobe, ALS Association

See also ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge

 Medic-ALL.Inc 2015!.

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