A chemical lengthens the nematode worm's lifespan by interfering with its perception of whether food is present.
Model organisms are known to live longer when they are fed a restricted diet. Mark Lucanic and Gordon Lithgow at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, and their colleagues screened 30,000 synthetic compounds and found several that extended the lifespan of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The most potent, NP1, mimicked the effects of dietary restriction by masking the activity of a sensory pathway that normally signals that food is abundant. The chemical does this by boosting signalling of a specific neurotransmitter called glutamate to the pharynx, which in nematodes is a tube-like organ that pumps food into the gut.
Further investigation of nutrient-sensing pathways could identify other life-extending chemicals, the authors say.
Aging Cell http://doi.org/bjhh (2016)