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Tributes are paid to Augusto Odone

Tributes are paid to Augusto Odone

THE death has taken place of Augusto Odone who defied medical opinion to invent what became known as Lorenzo’s Oil in a bid to save the life of his young son. He was 80.

In 1986, Mr. Odone was working as an economist with the World Bank in the United States when his young son Lorenzo was diagnosed with the incurable brain disease ALD. Doctors warned the boy, who was 6 at time, probably only had two years to live.

The disease, which affects young boys, results in the build-up of what are called long-chain fatty acids in the brain resulting in victims becoming paralysed and blind.

Mr. Odone and his wife Michaela refused to accept the medical advice that there was nothing that could be done. As his son’s condition deteriorated Mr. Odone began to study medicine and biochemistry, learning enough to eventually developed a mixture of acids, primarily from olive and rapeseed oils, which he persuaded British chemist Don Suddaby to distill.

The finished oil was eventually given to the young Lorenzo with dramatic results. It soon became clear that the oil targetted the long-chain fatty acids, reducing them to what was regarded as normal levels in Lorenzo’s brain.

However, while the oil did have some beneficial effects it did not result in a cure. 

Mr. Odone battled to have the oil given to other ALD sufferers. When this happened the results were encouraging, but while it failed to cure any of the the victims it was credited with prolonging lives. Lorenzo Odone survived until he was 30, much older than doctors ever believed was possible. 

In recent years, doctors have begun to believe that Lorenzo’s Oil may have a major preventative role to play. They believe there is a major benefit in giving the oil to young boys who have been found to be of risk from ALD but have not yet begun to display symptoms.

Mr. Odone’s story formed the basis of the 1992 film Lorenzo’s Oil which starred Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte (see below).

Following the death of his wife in 2000, Mr. Odone returned to live in his native Italy. 

To view the trailer for Lorenzo’s Oil, click here.

To see footage from a Congressional Lunch in Honour of Mr. Odone, click here.

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