×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Lorenzo’s Oil’ Inventor Augusto Odone Dies at 80

Augusto Odone, a former World Bank economist, defied skeptical scientists to invent a treatment to try to save the life of his little boy, wasting away from a neurological disease, and to give hope to other children afflicted with the same genetic defect.

Odone, 80, died on Thursday in his native Italy, five years after the death of his son Lorenzo, who astonished doctors by surviving decades longer than they predicted.

The concoction, derived from natural cooking oils, became known as Lorenzo’s Oil, which was also the title of a movie depicting the relentless efforts by Odone and his late wife, Michaela, to try to find a cure.

Cristina Odone told The Associated Press on Friday that her father had died in Acqui Terme, a town in northwestern Italy in the area where he grew up. She said he had lived for many years with a series of medical problems and had died of organ failure precipitated by a lung infection.

“What was so remarkable about my father is that he would never accept a death sentence, either for his own son or for himself,” she said. “He was supposed to die eight years ago, six years ago, four years ago. Till the very end, he would not accept either medical wisdom or a death sentence that nature would impose.”

In the 1992 film “Lorenzo’s Oil,” (pictured above) Nick Nolte played Odone, while Susan Sarandon played his wife.

Lorenzo was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy, a neurological disease also known as ALD, when he was 6 and living in the Washington, D.C., area. Doctors predicted the rare genetic disease would kill him in a few years and that he would not survive childhood. But Augusto and his wife Michaela refused to accept an outlook of doom.

Odone took early retirement and began work. After scouring medical journals and consulting scientists and doctors, he taught himself enough science that in 1987 he came up with a concoction derived from natural cooking oils.

He turned to a British scientist to produce an edible version, eventually contained in a bottle carrying the simple name “Lorenzo’s Oil.”

ALD is caused by a genetic defect that destroys the sheath covering nerve fibers. It is characterized by the buildup of substances in the blood called long-chain fatty acids. Lorenzo’s Oil is believed to return acid levels to normal when the condition is diagnosed early and the oil is accompanied by a strict, low-fat diet.

New York-born Michaela Odone died of lung cancer in 2000. Lorenzo died in 2008 at age 30. His parents had cared for him at home as he became paralyzed and lost the ability to talk, needing 24-hour care.

After his son’s death, Augusto Odone returned to his home region of Italy and wrote a book, “Lorenzo and His Parents.”

Cristina Odone ventured that her father’s legacy was to “try and try and try again, even when all around you say it is impossible.”

Odone is survived by Cristina and son Francesco. Cristina Odone also named as part of the surviving family Oumouri Hassane, the man who cared for Lorenzo from his early years.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Endeavor co-founder Ari Emanuel

    Endeavor Aims to Raise $620 Million With IPO

    Endeavor disclosed Monday that it expects a price between $30 and $32 per share for its initial public offering in the fall. Endeavor — the parent company of WME, UFC, IMG, Endeavor Content, Professional Bull Riders and other assets — aims to raise as much as $620 million with the sale of 19.4 million shares. [...]

  • Overall View of the Rose Bowl

    One Dead, One Injured in Rose Bowl Parking Lot Shooting

    One person was killed and another was injured Saturday night following a shooting in a Rose Bowl parking lot, the Pasadena police confirmed. According to a statement from the police department, police responded to reports of a physical altercation and shots fired at 11:22 p.m. near the area of Arroyo Boulevard and Seco Street, where [...]

  • Felicity Huffman

    Felicity Huffman Issues Apology After Receiving Prison Sentence: 'There Are No Excuses'

    Felicity Huffman issued a long statement of apology on Friday after receiving a two-week prison sentence for paying to illegally boost her daughter’s SAT score. In the statement, Huffman, in addition to saying  she accepts the court’s decision, acknowledges and apologizes to other parents fighting to get their children into college. Along with the prison [...]

  • Actress Felicity Huffman (C-L) and her

    Felicity Huffman Sentenced to 14 Days in Prison in SAT Cheating Case

    Felicity Huffman was sentenced on Friday to 14 days in prison for the crime of paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT score. Judge Indira Talwani also ordered her to serve 250 hours of community service and a year of probation, and pay a $30,000 fine. The sentence came as a surprise, as Talwani had [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER

    Rihanna Sings (Briefly), Pharrell and DJ Khaled Rock the Mic at Star-Studded Diamond Ball

    In just five years, Rihanna’s Diamond Ball has become one of the music industry’s biggest events of its kind, nearly on the level of the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala. While there are several dazzling charity events with equal starpower and often-unique performances, what makes the Diamond Ball different is, obviously enough, Rihanna’s supernova aura and [...]

  • Amber Heard Seeks Info on Johnny

    Amber Heard Seeks Info on Johnny Depp's Arrests and Substance Abuse

    Amber Heard is asking Johnny Depp to turn over records related to his arrests and drug treatment, as her lawyers defend her from a $50 million defamation suit. Depp filed suit in March, accusing his ex-wife of tanking his career by writing a Washington Post op/ed alluding to her domestic violence allegations against him. Heard [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content