Bacteria and fungal colonies produce a protective coating barrier called a biofilm, which makes it difficult for traditional antibiotics to penetrate the organisms. Dr. Lynne Howell is a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Medicine program at SickKids, and her team is focused on understanding how these biofilms are formed. In collaboration with the Sheppard lab at McGill University, they discovered a group of natural enzymes that break down biofilms to enhance the effectiveness of traditional antibiotics. These enzymes are easily manufactured, stable, and non-toxic, and can be used as anti-infectives for pulmonary diseases like cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition, the enzymes can prevent colonies from attaching to device surfaces such as catheters and implantable devices, decreasing the probability of infection. In vivo, these enzymes have increased the antibiotic effectiveness for wound infections, and their use to prevent biofilm formation on surfaces in vitro and in vivo are underway.