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Scientist, Division of Infectious Diseases, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

For much of her career, Colette Cywes-Bentley has researched infectious disease—with particular interest in common but stubborn public health challenges: tuberculosis, strep and staph. Her interest in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) came from a growing intuition that her skills in infectious disease might be able to play a role in understanding the phenomenon of Alzheimer’s disease.  

Dr. Cwyes-Bentley and her lab found evidence that microbes shed fragments that end up in the brain where they can accumulate, evading clearance by the brain’s immune cells. Her hypothesis is that these undisposed-of microbial fragments then can lead to inflammation in brain tissue, and that the inflammatory process can get stuck in the “On” mode. Dr. Cwyes-Bentley’s lab currently is exploring whether these microbial fragments can be tagged with an antibody to facilitate the brain’s natural clearance process and ultimately reduce chronic inflammation.  

“This year, funded by Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, we are working with a more severely afflicted strain of Alzheimer’s disease mice to confirm and refine our hypothesis. Our goal is to find therapeutic and preventative mechanisms that can play a role preventing, stopping and even ameliorating cognitive declines found in AD in humans.  

“As a researcher that comes to the Alzheimer’s field via a nonstandard route, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has not only provided funding, but also access to numerous Alzheimer’s disease researchers with vast knowledge and insight into this disease.”