ACQUI TERME, Italy, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Augusto Odone, an Italian economist whose struggle to save his son was dramatized in the movie "Lorenzo's Oil," has died. He was 80.
Odone's daughter, Cristina, said his death Thursday in Acqui Terme in northern Italy followed a struggle with heart disease and other problems, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"In the end, his heart just gave way," Cristina Odone said Thursday. "He had an extraordinary life force. He didn't accept a death sentence with his son and he didn't accept a death sentence with himself."
Odone had a distinguished career as an economist with the World Bank. But he was best known for his determination to help his son, Lorenzo, who was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, at the age of 6 in 1984. The rare disease is caused by a sex-linked gene that passes from mothers to sons and destroys the sheathing around nerve cells, leading to paralysis and early death.
When Lorenzo was diagnosed, Odone was living in Washington. He and his wife, Michaela, refused to accept the finding that the disease could not be treated, read everything they could find in scientific journals and decided that a combination of rapeseed and olive oil could help slow its progress.
"Lorenzo's Oil" proved to have some effect, especially when given while the disease is still in its early phases. Lorenzo Odone lived to be 30, dying from pneumonia caused by food getting stuck in his respiratory system, in 2008.
Odone pushed for research on ALD that led to a screening test and other treatments.