Only about 10% of ALS cases are in patients with a family history, but a study has found a gene in common in 3% of all ALS patients.
The gene, called NEK1, was discovered by research funded through the Ice Bucket Challenge, popular in 2014.
NEK1 is known to have multiple roles in neurons, including maintenance of the cytoskeleton that gives the neuron its shape and promotes transport within the neuron. In addition, NEK1 has roles in regulating the membrane of the mitochondrion, which supplies energy to neurons, and in repairing DNA. Disruption of each of these functions through other means has been linked to increased risk of ALS.