We all know the "Ice Bucket Challenge," but how well do you know ALS?
Lou Gehrig's Disease, also known as motor neurone disease or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), is an incurable nerve disorder which causes the slow breakdown of the use of one's voluntary muscles. Although the disease received a major boost in terms of awareness and funding for research in the summer of 2014 thanks to the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge," how much do you really know about the condition? In this short documentary, ALS patient Michael "Mike" Winston, diagnosed at an unusually young age, allowed us to witness the progression of the disease in a series of interviews.
This video was made several years before the Ice Bucket Challenge, and sadly, Mike since passed away in 2013. However, there is some good news to be shared, which is that, as a result of the over $100 million raised for the ALS Association, researchers have discovered a gene (NEK1), which may shed new light on the causes of the disease. Project MinE, which was funded in part from funds raised by the challenge, involved more than 80 researchers in 11 countries who sequenced the genomes of 15,000 people diagnosed from the disease. Although only 3% of cases are linked to this newly discovered gene, the finding could help scientists to understand the underlying causes of the disease and thereby pave the way to a cure.
There is still much to be done, but every small step forward represents hope for patients and their families. The ALS Association not only raises funds for research, but also provides assistance to those living with the disease. In this season of giving, if you're looking for an organization to support, keeping up the momentum in the battle against this rare disease is certainly a worthy cause. The ALS Association's website is http://www.alsa.org/.