Augusto Odone, an economic with the World Bank, defied skeptical scientists to invent a treatment to try to save the life of his little boy, who was wasting away from a neurological disease, and to give hope to other children afflicted with the same genetic defect.
Mr. Odone, 80, died on Thursday in his native Italy, five years after the death of his son Lorenzo, who astonished doctors by surviving decades longer than they predicted. He died at age 30.
The concoction, derived from natural cooking oils, became known as Lorenzo's Oil, which was also the title of a movie depicting the relentless efforts by Mr. Odone and his late wife, Michaela, to try to find a cure.
Cristina Odone told the Associated Press on Friday that her father died in Acqui Terme, a town in northwestern Italy in the area where he grew up. She said he had lived for many years with a series of medical problems and had died of organ failure precipitated by a lung infection.
In the 1992 film Lorenzo's Oil, Nick Nolte played Mr. Odone, while Susan Sarandon played his wife.
Lorenzo was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy, a neurological disease also known as ALD, when he was 6 and living in the Washington, D.C., area. Doctors predicted that the rare genetic disease would kill him in a few years and that he would not survive childhood. But Mr. Odone and his wife refused to accept an outlook of doom.
Mr. Odone took early retirement and began work in 1984. After scouring medical journals and consulting scientists and doctors, he taught himself enough science that in 1987 he came up with a concoction derived from natural cooking oils.
He turned to a British scientist to produce an edible version, eventually contained in a bottle carrying the simple name ''Lorenzo's Oil."