The ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" seems to be the latest fad to sweep the social media websites by storm. The Ice Bucket Challenge involves dumping a pail of ice-cold water on your head, and then recruiting three others to do the same within the next 24 hours.
The ALS Association, which researches amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) reports that it has received nearly $4 million in only 2 weeks. This is a huge success for the ALS Association, a near $3 million increase from last year's event.
In addition to the large amount of money that the organization now has for further research, the level of awareness about the disease seems to also expand globally. By promoting interest in the disorder along with gaining financial support for research, the Ice Bucket Challenge provides a huge benefit to the ALS Association, and to Lou Gehrig's disease in general.
Unfortunately, there are also ethical challenges that must be faced regarding stem cell research into this disorder. Using embryos of living beings to research ways to save another living being is called "contradictory" and unethical by some. However, we now have the technology available to reproduce tissue and cells without the use of extracted embryos, so we can hope that stem cell research will begin to use methods of research that will not seem quite so unethical.
In addition to stem cell research, the ALS Association also hopes to have new prescription drugs produced for the disease; as currently, there is only one FDA approved prescription for ALS. This prescription extends the life of the patient approximately two to three months. Unfortunately, the disease is always fatal.
The ethical issues should be considered with the Ice Bucket Challenge, as with any disease research, and the ALS Association hopes to not only find the problem - but also to provide the cure. As with any debilitating disease, such as Lou Gehrig's disease, ending the suffering and death of another human being should be first priority in any compassionate and caring society.
Many celebrities have taken to Television or YouTube to raise awareness and funding for the ALS research through the Ice Bucket Challenge, including: Elizabeth Banks, Justin Timberlake, Martha Stewart, Matt Lauer, Rob Riggie, Horatio Sanz, Steve Higgins, Jimmy Fallon, and Conan O'Brien. Since this fad hit YouTube in August, the ALS Association has gained over 70,000 new donors.
Regardless of the ethical issues surrounding the research methods for ALS, this disease most definitely deserves the attention that it brought to it by the Ice Bucket Challenge. This disorder is a problem that is long overdue a solution, and has been since Lou Gehrig suffered from it when the disease was named after him. Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, the hope for a cure may be a reality rather soon.