Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School who have been working with Project MinE’s global gene sequencing effort have recently made an important discovery in their ALS research to aid in creating a cure.
Why does this sound so familiar? Project MinE’s research efforts are funded by The ALS Association through the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations. That’s right, all of the videos of celebrities and your friends from high school drenching themselves in cold water actually served a purpose. The Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million that helped serve the research of the disease.
As you all may recall, ALS is a nerve disorder that slowly attacks nerves and muscle and slows motor capability in patients. This disease can be very devastating for those affected since there is no cure and symptoms can only be suppressed through medication and therapy. Project MinE researchers have identified a mutant gene, NEK1, which can be associated with causing ALS. This discovery was made when they studied the genomes of individuals who has a family member also affected by the disease. While the finding is only applicable to patients who get the disease genetically, which is the minority of patients, this gene discovery can provide scientists with another potential target for therapy development.