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Stem Cell Treatment, Research Breakthrough Could Help Wayne Father With ALS

Wayne's Gary Ragusa, center, with his boys. Photo Credit: GoFundMe
From left: Gary Ragusa, Ryan Ragusa, 13, Gary Ragusa Jr., 16, and Janine Ragusa get some sun after an ALS ice bucket challenge in Gary's honor this summer. Photo Credit: Janine Ragusa

WAYNE, N.J. — Gary Ragusa of Wayne didn’t mind the chill when he took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with his family in the summer of 2014.

The shock of having cold water dumped on his head was, after all, nothing compared to the suffering experienced by those he was trying to help.

The Ice Bucket Challenge took on a whole new meaning for Ragusa when he was diagnosed with ALS — commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” — in May 2015, and then again after a research breakthrough earlier this week.

Using a portion of the $115 million raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge, a research team from the University of Massachusetts found that gene NEK1, associated with 3% of ALS cases, makes it one of the most common genetic causes, according to MediaPost.com

The new discovery in turn has led to the possibility of more effective ALS drug treatments, the article says.

The ALS Association, also using funds from the Ice Bucket Challenge, linked two other genes associated with the disease to NKE1, according to MediaPost.com

Ragusa, a once-avid hockey player, has been supporting his teammates from the sidelines.

But as he prepares for a stem cell treatment that could slow the progression of his disease, his teammates are the ones rooting for him.

A GoFundMe page seeks to raise $60,000 to cover the treatment, which requires Ragusa to fly to the Dominican Republic.

CLICK HERE to donate to Gary Ragusa and HERE for more on the Ice Bucket Challenge’s research breakthroughs.

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