The FDA approved a drug on Thursday that can help slow the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and the Ice Bucket Challenge is partly to thank.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, the viral trend from 2014 that encouraged social media users to donate to the ALS Association or dump an ice-cold bucket of water over their head, raised $115 million. Of that money, $2.2 million was put toward funding the study that tested the newly approved medication Relyvrio, according to the ALS Association.
Back in 2014, as ice bucket videos took over people's Facebook and Vine feeds, some people questioned the value of the viral challenge. According to the ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge helped ALS researchers make scientific advances and increase its annual research funding by 187%.
Calaneet Balas, president and CEO of the ALS Association, said in a news release Thursday that the FDA approval of Relyvrio is a victory for the ALS community.
“The approval of AMX0035 is further proof of how the Ice Bucket Challenge dramatically accelerated the fight against ALS," she said. "Since then, we’ve seen new genes discovered, new assistive technology developed to help people living with ALS, and far more people living with ALS have access to care services than ever before.”
The ALS Association also credited the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2016 for helping discover a gene called NEK1 that has been linked to ALS by scientists.
In 2019, Pete Frates, the man who helped make the Ice Bucket Challenge fundraiser go viral, died from ALS at the age of 34. Celebrities, athletes, and influencers all took part in the challenge, including Hugh Jackman, George W. Bush, and Chris Evans.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes people to lose the ability to move, speak, and eventually, breathe. There is no cure for the disease. On average, people die within five years of their diagnosis.