BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Big breakthroughs in the battle against ALS thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Doctors across the country, including right here in Baltimore, credit the challenge for helping them make major advances.

WJZ’s Mary Bubala has more.

More than 17-million people rose to the challenge last year, getting soaked in the name of charity.

Celebrities, presidents, Orioles and Ravens players and even WJZ’s morning team all helped raise more than $220-million to fight ALS.

As many as 30,000 Americans have been diagnosed with this degenerative disease.

Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins University say some of that money has helped them better understand a protein in the brain which is dysfunctional in nearly all ALS cases.

The team is led by Professor Philip Wong who got doused just last week.

“It really spearheaded some of the research that otherwise we would not be able to do as rapidly as we could have,” said Wong.

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. He co-founded the Ice Bucket Challenge with Pete Frates.

“As simple as a silly bucket of ice water. What it did was change the world,” said Frates.

When the Ice Bucket Challenge started last summer, the ALS Association collected $115-million in less than two months. That’s a 2,200 percent increase from 2013

“Breakthroughs are what we need. There is really limited hope right now and the stronger the hope and the stronger the fight and that’s all you can ask for right now,” said Frates.

With researchers possibly one step closer to a cure round two of the challenge is already underway.

Supporters of the Ice Bucket Challenge say their new motto is, “Every August until a cure.”

Researchers at Johns Hopkins believe their groundbreaking research could have implications beyond ALS benefiting other brain disorders like Alzheimer’s.

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