The C. elegans worm might prove to be an effective research model for studying why some people develop Parkinson's Disease, say scientists from Dundee University.
Worms share 50% of their genes with humans, including those involved with inherited Parkinson's.
The team will study why the condition causes the patient's brain cells to die.
"Research leading to an eventual cure for Parkinson' s disease is a daunting task and requires a very broad and multidisciplinary approach," BBC News quoted lead researcher Dr Anton Gartner.
Several genes, including one known as LRRK2, have been linked to the hereditary form of Parkinson's Disease.
Dr Gartner's team will study how changes or mutations in this gene lead to the development of Parkinson's - and how drugs could stop the damage that these mutations cause to nerve cells.
"It's fascinating that such a simple animal as a worm can be an excellent model for Parkinson's researchers to study what happens in specific nerve cells," said Dr Kieran Breen, from the Parkinson's Disease Society, which funded the study.