Many of you will remember the amazing trend of Summer 2014, that saw millions of people pouring buckets of ice over their heads and sharing the clips onto social media in order to raise money and awareness of ALS. For months, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube was full of people who had been nominated and were ready to absolutely freeze their bits off for a good cause. Everyone took part in this from little old me to David and Victoria Beckham and when the craze died down it was announced that the ALS Association had actually received a stupidly amazing $100 million worth of donations.
And today it has been revealed that thanks to these donations, scientists have been able to identify a new gene associated with the condition. They identified NEK1 as a result, which now ranks among the most common contributor to the disease. Findings from Project MinE - a study of more than 15,000 people with ALS - provides scientists with another potential target for therapy development.
The lead researched, Dr John Landers, from the University of Massachusetts said "global collaboration among scientists which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery. It is a prime example of the success that can come from the combined efforts of so many people, all dedicated to finding the causes of ALS".
There were a lot of complaints at the time from people who were worried that people were taking part in the Ice Bucket challenge for the wrong reasons, that they were simply doing it to gain social media likes and that none of them really knew the first thing about ALS in the first place. And so of course, the temptation for people to turn their noses up at these sorts of things as they scroll through their news feeds, passing them off as 'attention seeking', is massive, I am hopeful that this will remind people that, when used in the right way, social media truly can be the most wonderful thing.
This truly has reinstated my faith in humanity in what is proving to be a very dark time for the world, it is well worth remembering what is possible when we work together, smiling and laughing as we go.