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Lorenzo's Oil

Essay by   •  December 9, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,076 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,403 Views

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After watching the movie, we discussed the movie from several different angles. As a result, we have prepared the following summary of the movie as well as several thoughts regarding the movie.

Summary of Movie

Three months after Lorenzo Odone and his family moved to Washington D.C., he began to have behavioral problems that soon grew to include motor skill problems. After testing, he was diagnosed with adrenoleucodystrophy (ALD). ALD is an inherited metabolism disorder in which the enzyme to break down long chains of fat does not work. The fats build up in the brain and cause the myelin sheath around brain cells to liquefy. The brain declines to the point of death within two years.

Augusto and Michaela Odone were not given hope for treatment but they were offered a place in a diet trial that cut out long chain fat foods. Instead of reducing the long chain fat in Lorenzo's blood it increased it. A doctor suggested immunosuppression with chemo- therapy for one month. This was devastating to Lorenzo, not helpful. After this the Odone's realized that they should not have put Lorenzo in the doctors' hands blindly and decided to educate themselves. After much study they discovered that biosynthesis was causing Lorenzo's body to make up for the long chain fats he was not eating by producing its own. The Odones then found evidence that giving Lorenzo another kind of fat that was not harmful to him slowed biosynthesis down.

After they attended the first International ALD Symposium they found a laboratory that could produce the triglyceride olive oil they needed to test their hypothesis. Al though the doctors didn't trust their findings, they decided to give the olive oil to Lorenzo. His long chain fats dropped fifty percent and then leveled off. Doctors and parents of ALD children were skeptical of their findings because they did not have a medical degree and/or training. Lorenzo's parents decided to look for the rest of the solution to reduce the long chain fats in his blood. Augusto realized the same enzymes, not different ones, regulated the fats. He found a chemist that could produce the rapeseed oil they hoped would trick the body into stopping production of the long chain fats. The doctors did not support his family officially, but some of them helped him unofficially. Augusto was disappointed that they didn't have the courage to challenge the status quo.

After trying the new oil out on Michaela's sister, they gave Lorenzo the oil. Three months later his blood was normal for the fats. This treatment stopped the progress of the disease but he has irreparable brain damage. Other children were helped by Lorenzo's bootleg oil before the formal trials started. Lorenzo still survives, long after the two-year projection of his death. His parents then began trying to find a way to replace myelin in the brain.

Movie Review

Lorenzo's parents and Louis Pasteur shared many similar frustrations in their respective fights to find cures. They were ignored by respected doctors because they were not doctors in the fields in which they were working. They did not let themselves become tainted by skepticism. In each case, they secretly gave treatments that were yet to be approved. They all realized no theory was accepted without opposition, but progress cannot happen unless people have the courage to provoke and question the status quo.

Lorenzo's Oil is actually the medicine that Lorenzo's father made to help him. The oil consists of one part acetic acid, and four parts olive oil (minus the fatty acids that were bad for him). This medicine has become a very important treatment for ADH in boys. This oil causes the blood to not produce the fatty acids that cause the brains

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