DURHAM (WTVD) --2016 could be pivotal year in fight against ALS.
"In the 16 years that I've been involved with this, I've never seen a more exciting year," said Dr. Richard Bedlack of the Duke ALS Clinic.
And as the top doctor for ALS at Duke Hospital and the Durham VA, Dr. Bedlack would know.
"We've got a better understanding of why people get ALS than we've ever had before. People with ALS, especially veterans, are living longer and better lives than they ever had before and the trial pipeline is more exciting than ever," he said.
Bedlack says in just the last year, scientists have made a number of potential breakthroughs that could stop the progress - or even reverse ALS - in the next few years. And, he says a lot of that progress is the result of money brought in by the Ice Bucket Challenge and public awareness campaigns, like Stogner Strong.
"I mean, the ice bucket challenge, every other disease in the world is looking at ALS, saying how did that happen? We've never seen anything like that, that exploded awareness and exploded funding and we are starting to see the benefits of that now with all this research I've talked to you about," said Bedlack.
There are about 12,000 people living with ALS in the United States and Bedlack says they have more reason for hope now than ever before.
"I've seen way too many great people taken down by this disease, and I'm ready to see it end," he said.