Augusto Odone, the man who invented a treatment to help his ailing son Lorenzo, has died at the age of 80.
The former World Bank economist made headlines around the world after researching and creating an oil to help his ailing son, Lorenzo. The 6-year-old boy was diagnosed in 1984 with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) — a devastating neurological disease that renders patients mute, deaf, blind and paralyzed before dying. Doctors gave Lorenzo only two years to live, a death sentence that Odone refused to accept.
"One problem with medical research," Odone told the Washington Post in 2008, "is that doctors think they know everything. In fact, they know very little."
Using information gleaned from hundreds of academic articles, Odone discovered that his son's disease was linked to abnormal levels of "very long chain" fatty acids. He then posited that a mixture of olive oil and rapeseed oil, which contain fatty acids that reduce the levels of very long chain fatty acids, might be the key to saving his son's life. After contacting 100 firms all around the world, the Odone family was able to finally convince British chemist Don Suddaby to distill the treatment.
Augusto gave his son the oil treatment and he responded with dramatic results, greatly expanding his life beyond what doctors had predicted. He sadly passed away at the age of 30 in 2008, but his story touched millions and even inspired the Oscar-nominated film "Lorenzo's Oil."
Today, Odone's work lives on through The Myelin Project, an organization that aims to accelerate research on myelin repair in neurological diseases. The project is funded through royalties earned on the patent for Lorenzo's oil.
Check out a trailer for the "Lorenzo's Oil" film below.
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