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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge helped fund the development of a new treatment drug: NPR

Contestants throw buckets of ice water over their heads as they take part in the world record ice bucket challenge at the Etihad Stadium on August 22, 2014, in Melbourne, Australia.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images


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Scott Barbour/Getty Images


Contestants throw buckets of ice water over their heads as they take part in the world record ice bucket challenge at the Etihad Stadium on August 22, 2014, in Melbourne, Australia.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

If you think back to 2014, you might remember scattered videos on your social media showing your friends standing in their yards waiting and nervously smiling at the cold snap that was about to hit them.

After their friend talked a bit and pledged to donate money to the ALS Association, a large bucket of ice water was poured over their heads, drenching them as they tried to shake off the cold. And whether before or after, each video included a challenge to another friend to do the same.

It was like that for just about every ALS ice bucket challenge, and while it might seem like it was just a trend on social media, it actually made a big difference in the world of ALS research.

The ALS Association said that $2.2 million of the funds raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge went to fund the development and testing of the new drug that the Food and Drug Administration approved this week for the treatment of ALS, also known as Lou’s disease Gehrig.

“We are grateful to the millions of people who donated, participated and allowed us to invest in promising therapies like AMX0035 that will immediately help people living with ALS,” said Calaneet Balas, President and CEO of the ALS Association. “This is a victory for the entire ALS community, who came together to advocate for early approval” of the treatment.

The new drug is not a cure for the deadly neurodegenerative disease, but it does slow down the effects. Balas said funding for the challenge has “dramatically accelerated the fight against ALS.”

The recently FDA-approved drug isn’t the only one benefiting from the challenge. More than $115 million has been raised from the trend, and the ALS Association said it is funding 130 research projects in 12 different countries, as well as 40 potential treatments that are in development.

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