NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The ice bucket challenge has raised more than $40 million for ALS over the last two months, $8.6 million on Tuesday alone.

But what does that really mean?

Besides the millions of viral videos now circulating the web, there is an entire force of big pharmaceutical companies and non-profit clinics and universities hunting for a cure. The record influx of funds supporting Lou Gehrig’s disease may help them hone in on one.

In August, the ALS Association began putting those donations to work, awarding scientists with 21 new research grants valued at $3.5 million, it said in a report.

Some of the money is being funneled to its TREAT ALS research program, an effort to accelerate clinical testing for drug candidates and aid new drug discovery. A lot of the other money goes to support NEALS, a non-profit consortium of clinics and universities dedicated to ALS research and development, while some goes to ALS victims and public policy efforts.

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