It’s been a whole year, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is paying off – the first phase trial for an experimental but highly promising drug is said to be in the process of getting approved within the US and is due to start soon.
Last year, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was kicked off by Pat Quinn and Pete Frates. This year it kicked off this Friday in Boston and has already spurred movement on social networking sites. Last year it raised a staggering $115 million which were given to the ALS Foundation, by only 2.5 million people. This year, hopes are up that it will surpass that sum.
It is not that there is an actual need for the money, as there is for research on the motor neuron disease which has continuously baffled scientists for decades. But research cannot be motivated with the noble goal of beating the disease once and for all. Doctors need to eat too, no? This is what this fundraising effort is really about.
And in the period since last year, 47.1 million dollars have been assigned to specific research projects, while the rest up to 77 million dollars are saved to be given to a selection of other research projects.
As Matt Bellina reports for Fox News, the ailment, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (from the famous baseball player), it has been relatively unknown prior to the dumping-ice-water-on-the-head viral movement that took Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other websites by assault. Matt Bellina is a 32 year old ex-combat pilot of the U.S. Navy. Last year he was himself diagnosed with the disease.
In the past, people did not easily understand what Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis actually was. The disease enjoyed its small 15-minutes-of-fame twice. Once when Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with it and subsequently died, and the second time when Stephen Hawking, the renowned astrophysicist was diagnosed with it. The latter is still going strong against the disease, long having passed the original bad life expectancy forecast.
The new drug that is said to begin its phase one trial for assessing safety is a cannabinoid based drug which is being developed by a combined team from the Tikun Olam, an Israeli company specializing in medical marijuana and the Hospital for Special Surgery of New York.
So, if you’re planning to put a bucket of ice water on your head, don’t forget to use #ALSIceBucketChallenge.
Image source: nocamels.com