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Background: Outcomes in children hospitalised with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) remain poor. The current milk-based formulations focus on restoring weight-gain but fail to address modification of the integrity of the gut barrier and may exacerbate malabsorption owing to functional lactase, maltase and sucrase deficiency. We hypothesise that nutritional feeds should be designed to promote bacterial diversity and restore gastrointestinal (GI) barrier function. Methods: Our major objective was to develop a lactose-free, fermentable carbohydrate-containing alternative to traditional F75 and F100 formulae for the inpatient treatment of SAM. New target nutritional characteristics were developed and relevant food and infant food specific legislation were reviewed. Suitable certified suppliers of ingredients were identified. Processing and manufacture steps were evaluated and optimised for safety (nutritional, chemical and microbiological), and efficacy at meeting target characteristics (lactose-free, containing resistant starch 0.4-0.5% final product weight). Results: A final validated production process was developed and implemented to produce a novel food product for the inpatient treatment of SAM in children in Africa designed to reduce risk of osmotic diarrhoea and support symbiotic gut microbial populations. The final product matched the macronutrient profile of double-concentrated F100, adhered to all relevant legislation regulating infant foods, was lactose free, and contained 0.6% resistant starch. Chickpeas were selected as the source of resistant starch, since they are widely grown and eaten throughout Africa. Micronutrient content could not be matched in this ready-to-use product, so this was replaced at the point of feeding, as was fluid lost through concentration. Conclusions: The processes and product described illustrate the development steps for a novel nutritional product. The new feed product was ready for evaluation for safety and efficacy in a phase II clinical trial in Ugandan children admitted to hospital with SAM (Modifying Intestinal MicroBiome with Legume-Based feed 2: MIMBLE feed 2 (ISRCTN10309022)).

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome Open Res

Publication Date





legume, microbiome, ready-to-use therapeutic food, resistant starch, severe acute malnutrition, undernutrition