Breaking resistance development using molecules ‘dancing’ in Fibronacci patterns / At bremse resistensudvikling ved hjælp af molekyler der ‘danser’ i Fibonacci mønstre

  • S. J. Fey (Guest lecturer)
  • Khandelia, H. (Guest lecturer)
  • Jette E. Kristiansen (Guest lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


One of the most exciting features of non-antibiotics is that they can sensitise many different microorganisms to existing antibiotics. This has enormous implications.
Firstly, it is not necessary to develop new non-antibiotics for each microorganism. It is also not necessary to develop specific tests for each strain of microorganism: a general test is quite sufficient.
Secondly, it is not easily possible for the microorganism to mutate and escape this sensitisation. We all know that ‘flu mutates and every few years we need to be vaccinated again against the new ‘threat’. This is not necessary with non-antibiotics – we can use the same compound year after year.
Thirdly, each doctor or farmer will not need to have a refrigerator-full of different compounds – he or she will only need one or two.
Finally, all of these features will also mean that the non-antibiotics will be inexpensive, both to produce and use.

But that is not all. From the point of view of molecular biology, that a compound has such a broad range of applications is extremely special. Normally, there is a specific treatment for each disease. Some antibiotics work for a number of microorganisms. But even antibiotics have much more limited ranges of applications than non-antibiotics.
It suggests that non-antibiotics act at a very fundamental level: at a feature or activity that is in common between many different microorganisms. Others and ourselves have proposed that this common feature is the cell membrane. All cell membranes are made of phospholipids. These molecules differ in their ‘head group’ and the length of their ‘tails’ but their basic structure is the same.
We have measured the solubility of particular non-antibiotics in different types of cell membrane phospholipid. We found that for each type of head group, the solubility in differing tail length phospholipids follows one of the most fundamental mathematical series – the Fibonacci series. This series is seen many times in nature: the shape of a spiral sea shell, the seeds in a sunflower, the shape of our ear or the shape of a spiral galaxy, but this is one of the rare cases where it is also seen at the molecular level. This observation has allowed us to suggest a Fibonacci spiral arrangement of the non-antibiotic around the phospholipid. Super-computer animation of these interactions shows the non-antibiotics migrating to - and dancing around - the membrane interface.
This interaction will affect the function of the membrane and proteins within it (for example the efflux pumps). Therefore, we have postulated that this leads to the antibiotic-sensitisation of microorganisms by non-antibiotics.
Period25. Jan 2017
Event titleNye muligheder for behandling af multiresistenet infektioner med non-antibiotika: New possibilities to treat multiresistant infections with non-antibiotics
Event typeConference
LocationCopenhagen, DenmarkShow on map


  • Non-antibiotics
  • Toxicity
  • Fibonacci
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • tuberculosis
  • MRSA