The film is based on the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone and their son Lorenzo. In 1984 Lorenzo came down with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare inherited disease. Doctors said that he would lose all his functions and die within two to three years. Refusing to accept this grim verdict, the Odones set out on a mission to find a treatment for ALD and to save their child. In their quest for a treatment the Odones often clashed with doctors, scientists, and support groups, who were doubting that anything could be done about ALD. Their persistent struggle tested the boundaries of conventional medicine.
The Odones haunted medical libraries, reviewed countless animal experiments, badgered researchers, questioned top doctors all over the world, and persisted until a solution came to them in a moment of inspiration. They commissioned a special type of oil from a British firm, which normalized the accumulation of very long chain fatty acids in the brain, the hallmark of ALD.
The film ends on a positive note, showing several healthy children who, having followed a course of treatment with Lorenzo's Oil, remained symptom-free. The conclusion relates that Lorenzo can communicate again by a modified sign language, and that Augusto Odone was awarded an honorary Ph.D. for his pioneering work in researching and discovering a significant treatment for ALD.
ALD is an inherited genetic disorder linked to the X sex chromosome. Because of the way genetic inheritance works, only boys have the most severe form of ALD. The disorder leaves the body unable to break down big fat molecules. Recent research shows that this is most likely due to a carrier protein that fails to work correctly and carry the fat molecules to where they would be broken down. Some symptoms shown in the movie Lorenzo's Oil were hyperactive, clumsy, audio difficulty, and seizures. Adrenal function must be tested periodically in all patients with ALD. Treatment with adrenal...