Augusto Odone, best known as the creator of Lorenzo's Oil, passed away at age 80 this week in Acqui Terme, Italy. Patti Chapman, president of the California-based Myelin Project, confirmed the news of Odone's death, according to The Washington Post on Oct 25.
Odone was a World Bank economist, but most people know him as the man who created the oil that helped his son Lorenzo live over 20 years longer than expected. His family's story was chronicled in the 1992 film "Lorenzo's Oil" starring Nick Nolte as Odone and Susan Sarandon as his wife, Michaela.
At age six, Lorenzo was diagnosed with a rare disease known as adrenoleukodystrophy and was given only two years to live. The disease damages the myelin sheath that coats brain cells. Odone had no medial experience but did extensive research on his own, eventually retiring from World Bank in 1987 to care for Lorenzo, and concocted a mixture of olive and rapeseed oils aimed at stopping the dangerous buildup of long-chain fatty acids.
Lorenzo's fatty acid level began to drop as a result of the oil and he lived to age 30, far surpassing doctors' expectations. He died in 2008.
The oil mixture created by Odone has had positive results for others affected by ALD as well. BBC News notes that the oil has been shown to be most effective on patients who have the ALD gene but have not yet begun to exhibit symptoms.
Odone and Michaela, who passed away in 2000, founded the Myelin Project, which continues to research ALD and other diseases affecting the myelin sheath.