Sunday, June 01, 2008

Lorenzo's Oil boy dies

Lorenzo Odone, whose parents' battle to save him from a rare nerve disorder was depicted in the 1992 film Lorenzo's Oil, has died from pneumonia aged 30. Doctors had predicted he would not live beyond childhood when he was diagnosed with the incurable disease aged six.

But his parents found what seemed to be a cure made of acids from olive and rapeseed oils. Lorenzo had Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a genetic disease that progressively destroys the brains of young boys.Lorenzo was given less than two years to live but his parents refused to accept the doctors' prognosis. With no scientific training, they took on the medical establishment and set about finding a cure.

In 1986 it seemed they had succeeded with a combination of oils that effectively reduced the long-chain fatty acids in the blood. Despite the fairytale ending in the film, the claims have always been controversial and children suffering from ALD continued to die, despite being treated with Lorenzo's oil.

However, a 10-year study showed that while the oil does not appear to work for people who are already ill, it does seem to prevent illness in those whose genes make them vulnerable to developing symptoms. (BBC)

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