A new study shows that a therapeutic food designed to repair the gut microbiomes of malnourished children is better than standard therapy in supporting their growth. The research, published online April 7, 2021, in The New England Journal of Medicine, was a collaboration between Washington University School of Medicine and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the clinical trial was conducted.
The teams led by Gordon and Ahmed, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, plan to initiate further studies into whether therapeutic foods that nurture beneficial gut microbes can help malnourished children in other parts of the world. This involves a program of developing microbiome-directed foods that contain distinct but functionally “biosimilar” ingredients that are readily available, affordable and culturally acceptable to parents and children living in these other countries. Also, Gordon and his colleagues plan to investigate whether repairing dysfunctional gut microbial communities at younger ages and over longer time frames could have an even greater impact.