GOOD

One Year Later, There’s Some Great News About the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Turns out that pouring icy water on our heads may have contributed to a major medical breakthrough.

image via (cc) flickr user ctsenatedems

You remember the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, don’t you?


Sure you do. It was last summer’s insanely popular, social media driven movement that had people around the world dumping buckets of freezing cold water on their heads, all in an effort to raise awareness—and, more importantly, money—for medical research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or, as it’s more commonly known, Lou Gherig’s Disease. Critics argued it was nothing more than a fad, decrying it as slactivisim at its worst, in which inconsequential actions would have little bearing on this very consequential disease. Advocates, meanwhile, pointed to the ice bucket challenge’s astonishing popularity as proof that *something* significant was happening, even if it might have been hard to understand what that something truly was.

image via (cc) flickr user quintanomedia

Fast forward a year to today. In a paper recently published by a team from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, researchers believe they have made a significant leap forward in understanding one of the major mysteries of ALS (in brief, the team has identified the role of the TDP-43 protein, and how it manifests in both healthy and diseased cells.) In and of itself, the research is too technical to have likely made waves outside the medical research field. However, as Johns Hopkins graduate student and paper co-author Jonathan Ling explained in a recent Reddit AMA, this breakthrough can be directly traced back to the outpouring of interest, and money, from the ice bucket challenge.

Writes Ling:

I mainly wanted to do this AMA because I remember reading a lot of stories about people complaining that the ice bucket challenge was a waste and that scientists weren’t using the money to do research, etc. I assure you that this is absolutely false. All of your donations have been amazingly helpful and we have been working tirelessly to find a cure. With the amount of money that the ice bucket challenge raised, I feel that there’s a lot of hope and optimism now for real, meaningful therapies. After all, 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!

Later, Ling explains that much of the money raised by the ice bucket challenge is only now beginning to be felt in the research community, as the ALS Association has spent a large part of the past year working to properly allocate the $100 million that they received during the past summer (as compared to the $3 million that they received in the summer prior.)

Since the ice bucket challenge’s meteoric rise in popularity last year, a number of other organizations and causes have tried to duplicate its success, but none have been quite able to replicate the sheer virality and impact of the ALS challenge itself. Still, Ling’s statements should be heartening to anyone who worried whether these so-called “slactivist” causes could ever truly make a difference. Not every hashtag campaign will necessarily have the same impact as the ice bucket challenge, of course, but in this instance—and hopefully in many more to come—something as simple, and as silly, as pouring icy water over our heads, may have truly made serious progress possible.

[via huffpo]

Articles
Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less
promo-homepage

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics