Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Several years ago my wife and I went to see a movie that we'd never heard anything about, but that came highly recommended. That movie was Lorenzo's Oil. The first thing I remember thinking as I watched the first five minutes was, "I can't sit through this whole movie with Nick Nolte's awful foreign accent (it was Italian, I think)." About 15-20 minutes into the movie, however, either he'd become somewhat believable or I'd become absorbed enough in the story not to be distracted by it. The main thing I remember about the film was the jarring depiction of a young boy suffering from the rare degenerative nerve disease, adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), and his parents' struggle do anything they could to lessen their son's suffering and hopefully find a treatment for his disease. In the movie the boy's parents, Augusto (Nolte) and Michaela Odone (Susan Sarandon - she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance), find that ALD is so rare that there's not enough money or interest in the medical community to bring together significant minds and resources to seek a cure or an effective treatment. Augusto & Michaela devote all of their resources, financial and mental to finding a cure for their son Lorenzo. They devour medical textbooks and become conversant in biochemistry and neurology so that they can dialogue with top medical personnel about ALD, and come alongside any who are willing to work for a cure. In the end, Augusto develops a hypothesis about how to treat ALD, and concocts a medicine, Lorenzo's oil, that he believes will block enzymes that contribute to the loss of myelin which insulates nerve fibers and allows them to process nerve impulses properly. Throughout the movie, the Odone's are considered to be quacks and mainly dismissed by the research community. Towards the end, though, they begin to see some results from Lorenzo's Oil and I think that's about where the movie ends.

Well, guess what I saw in the news this week? Lorenzo's Oil works and the medical community is finally ready to get behind it and recommend it for those suffering with ALD.

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