Obit of the Day: Creator of Lorenzo’s Oil
In 1984, six-year-old Lorenzo Odone was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) an incurable disease that caused a build up of fatty acids on nerve cells stripping them of myelin. The made it impossible for the cells to deliver messages to the brain. As the disease progresses it eventually causes the victim - most often males - to fall into a vegetative state.
When Augusto and Michaela were given the diagnosis they were told that that ALD would kill their son quickly. The Odones refused to accept the early death sentence for Lorenzo and committed themselves to finding a cure.
Mr. Odone, who worked for the World Bank and had no scientific background, taught himself medicine and biochemistry. He was able to determine that certain oils contained levels of oleic acid that reduced chains of fatty acids, most notably olive oil. With that knowledge, and additional research, Mr. Odone developed “Lorenzo’s Oil” a mixture of olive and rapeseed oils that could not cure ALD but slowed its effects.
The oil mixture reduced the severity of Lorenzo’s symptoms and when a researcher did a ten-year study on the effects of Lorenzo’s Oil it prevented the appearance of symptoms in young boys.
In 1992, the Odones’ story was fictionalized in the film Lorenzo’s Oil starring Nick Nolte as Mr. Odone and Susan Sarandon as Mrs. Odone.
Lorenzo Odone lived until the age of 30, dying in 2008 from ALD. Michaela Odone died from cancer in 2000.
Augusto Odone, who published a memoir in 2013 titled Lorenzo and His Parents, died on October 24, 2013 at the age of 80.
(Image of Augusto Odone and Lorenzo’s Oil is copyright of Camera Press and courtesy of the Telegraph)