During ageing, human proteins tend to aggregate. At a certain point, protein aggregation becomes toxic, which can cause damage to occur also in neurons and may result in neurodegenerative diseases. By studying model organisms like the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans
, it is possible to uncover the mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration. Scientists recently found that a naturally occurring molecule enhances defence mechanisms against neurodegenerative diseases. Feeding this particular metabolite to C. elegans
improves clearance of toxic protein aggregates in the body and extends life span.