Ice Bucket Challenge ices an ALS breakthrough

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Friday, August 21, 2015
ABC-13 staff members getting ice bucket challenge

BALTIMORE -- Last August, it seemed everyone was taking the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and money for research for A-L-S, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

And now we're seeing how it helped.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins, who took the challenge themselves and got soaked, say they've made a breakthrough, and couldn't have done it so quickly without the money raised through the movement.

Jonathan Ling and Philip Wong say they have discovered how a brain protein called TDP-43 linked to A-L-S works.

And with it, they have developed a potential treatment.

About a decade ago, researchers discovered people with A-L-S often had clumps of TDP-43 protein outside the nucleus of their brain cells.

But they never knew whether it was the cause or the result of the degenerative disease.

In experiments with mice, they made a protein to mimic TDP-43 and put it into the nerve cells, or neurons.

The cells came back to life, indicating the protein problem is at least part of the reason the nervous system slowly dies off in A-L-S.

The Hopkins team already has funding to put their protein into human trials, all because so many people were willing to get wet.