The movie Lorenzo’s Oil is based on a true story. Lorenzo was a happy, bright and active young boy living in East Africa as his father was stationed there to work. When his parents, Augusto and Michaela Odone, were relocated back to the United States Lorenzo began to show unusual signs of disruptive behavior and balance issues.
After medical exams the boy was diagnosed at the age of 5 with having adrenoleukodystrophy also know as ALD. A rare disease with no known treatment or cure with a life expectancy of becoming fatal with in 2 years. His parents refused to accept his condition and with grave determination set out to find treatment to save their child. After numerous failures with doctors and organizations and the declining health of Lorenzo they set out on their own to begin numerous hours of research. Less than a year of research they discovered what is now known as “Lorenzo’s Oil” a combination of oils isolated from rapeseed oil and olive oil which reduce the long chain of fatty acids in the blood. Despite the complications or reactions this oil may have on his body they chose to make it a part of his daily diet with his blood levels returning back to normal. Lorenzo’s symptoms began to improve and the conclusion states he is able to communicate by computer and modified sign language at the age of 14.
Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is a result of fatty acid build up caused by relevant enzymes not functioning properly. The most affected tissues are the myelin located in the central nervous system. It is carried by the mother linked to the X chromosome with a mutation in the ABCD1 gene. Mostly shown as a heterogeneous disorder. Symptoms appear between the age of 4 to 8, which cause adrenal insufficiency, difficulty walking, speech and vison problems, emotional instability, hyperactivity, and disruptive behavior. Untreated it progresses to demyelination which leads to vegetable state and death.
This movie relates to many topics in Biology 100. I will start in Chapter 1, The Scientific Method. The Odone’s used evidence from many past researches to answer questions and test ideas. Thru long hours of medical research, they were able to do observations, predictions, collect date and analyze. In chapter 2 we are studying atoms which make up matter which is broken down into elements. An associated term with ALD is VLCSFA which stands for a saturated fatty acid with a very long hydrocarbon tail.
Made up of the elements hydrogen and carbon each link has 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 carbon atom. Augusto uses the water faucet example to explain how the food and body make the bad and good saturated fats to affect the blood levels in an ALD patient. Trans fats are discussed in Unit 1 chapter 2 on page 43. Unit 2 chapter 10, we will discuss how the sex-linked genes have effects on the inheritance. As with ALD the disease is linked to the x chromosome which means the mother is the carrier that can be passed on to the male. In the movie Michaele is very upset with her self to think she has given this disease to Lorenzo.
Unit 6, Chapter 24, The Nervous System is impacted greatly with ALD. As Lorenzo’s disease progresses he losses the capability of walking, speaking, swallowing and movement which has lead him to a vegetable state. The mother was very persistent in making sure his sensory were stimulated with continuing to read and talk with him daily.