Fight COVID-19 on all fronts: MSU alumnus helps develop COVID vaccine, connects communities to information | MSU Today

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Ian Moore, who heads the infectious disease pathogenesis section of the Directorate of Comparative Medicine at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, has worked on numerous projects with critical implications for human health . But, he said, his most recent experience helping develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was unique.

During the early days of the pandemic, Moore recalls watching the news at home and seeing the number of reported COVID cases in the United States increase – first 14, then 20, then 600.

“In March, I was asked to support the work on the Moderna vaccine because our lab was set up for that and my experience as an influenza researcher, so it was kind of a plug-and- easy play for me. But I knew it would be a big challenge, ”said Moore. “You go out and you see everyone in a mask, and you go to work and you come home and you know you’re working on this very thing that has everyone in a mask, keeping everyone from being around. of their loved ones, the thing that is killing people across the country, across the world. It’s a lot to digest on a daily basis.

Ian Moore, courtesy photo of NIH.

Moore is a veterinary pathologist. On a normal day, he and his lab help infectious disease investigators set up and conduct research studies and generate and analyze data. Moore works on infectious diseases like zika, malaria, tuberculosis and influenza, as well as allergic diseases like eczema and food allergies. According to Moore, who was completing a critical study related to the pathogenesis of human norovirus, all that work came to a halt when COVID arrived.

“It helped with the [vaccine] completion time. We paused everything else and focused on the COVID vaccine, ”Moore said.

Moore’s role in vaccine development was related to preclinical safety and efficacy studies. He focused on ensuring the vaccine was safe and effective in animal models before moving on to testing in phase I, II and III human clinical trials.

“There is a lot of review process in developing a vaccine but luckily when we were testing this vaccine in the preclinical phase it worked so well and there wasn’t much doubt to be had. I just had to take my time and crawl, ”said Moore, who estimates that he examined more than 3,000 – and up to 4,000 – slide samples from different animal species during preclinical studies. “In the end, I could sit comfortably and confident because I knew I had slipped until my eyes hurt. Then I would do it again to make sure, because before I send this report I want to make sure I know exactly what I’m seeing – or what I’m not seeing.

“You go out and you see everyone in a mask, and you go to work and you come home and you know you’re working on this very thing that has everyone in a mask, keeping everyone from being around. of their loved ones, the thing that is killing people across the country, across the world. It’s a lot to digest on a daily basis.

Moore said that once the Moderna vaccine received emergency use approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration, he felt extremely grateful, a sentiment that motivated him to revive. with those who have helped him reach this stage of his career.

“I contacted three of my secondary and primary teachers to say ‘Thank you’, because I had had teachers who were not very supportive of the school who tried to discourage me from taking this route, and I I had listened, it could be a very different situation. I probably wouldn’t do that now, ”Moore said.

Returning to his old teachers and his small hometown in Alabama, Moore began to share the work he was doing on the Moderna vaccine. He has a lot of questions.

A drawing of a

Moore drew this after graduating from high school. After graduating from veterinary school, his teacher returned it to him. It reads: This picture that I drew was then and it is now so … Now that I have grown up, I will be … [an] animal doctor. PS I want you to save this one and return it when I have accomplished this.

“My grade 9 teacher, in particular, we stayed connected, and she was asking me if she should get the shot or not, and I said ‘Absolutely’. Now she’s had her second dose, ”Moore said.

She also got involved in encouraging others to get vaccinated. Moore said her teacher has become a community liaison. She spoke to their local newspaper, which has a story about Moore’s involvement in the vaccine. “That’s what got me started in this mass information campaign because now the whole community knew what I was doing. It was like a front page story, and I wasn’t ready for it. But I accepted it because it is people who trust me because I am from their city. They trusted my opinion and the information I gave them, and that was invaluable.

Moore says that was when he felt compelled to continue sharing information about the COVID vaccine. “There were people calling me left and right about having COVID, fearing they had COVID, or about people I knew who had died from COVID. I felt an immediate need to do something about it, not just a vaccine, but to provide accurate information to people. “

“At present, [some] people just know it’s new and someone wants to shoot it in their arm and that’s all they know, and people say it’s safe. But I want to show them it’s safe, and I can do it because I’ve done the preclinical safety and efficacy studies, which are the animal studies that are the first line of defense and show that sure, it didn’t cause any vaccine-associated damage or disease in the tissues I tested, and it’s effective, meaning it neutralized the virus that was in tissues when these animals were challenged. It is these two elements that allow the vaccine to go through larger clinical trials with humans. “

It was like a front page story, and I wasn’t ready for it. But I accepted it because they are people who trust me because I am from their city. They trusted my opinion and the information I gave them, and that was invaluable.

Moore does this frequently and even created his own handmade models to help teach.

“[During one Zoom] On an early Saturday morning, more than 150 people tuned in for a full two hours to learn more about the vaccine, ”Moore said. “It was only supposed to be 30 or 40 minutes, but people had questions and people were chatting all the time. At the very end there was a woman who woke up and she said, “Before I started this call, I wasn’t going to get the vaccine. I am the primary caregiver and health care leader in my family. Because of this conversation, I absolutely get this vaccine because I understand it now.

Moore looks back on everything that happened during his COVID vaccine education efforts, all of which resulted from a single phone call, simply meant to show his gratitude.

“It seemed to me that the circle had come full circle. [My teacher’s] kindness helped me, to have someone who believed in what I did as a kid, and then get a vaccine 25 years later that I helped create. I think that’s pretty cool, ”Moore said.

MOVE ON TO OTHER BIOMEDICAL FIGHTS

Moore’s lab still supports Moderna’s vaccine studies. But like all great scientists, his attention is in high demand. The regular, day-to-day work on infectious diseases since the pre-pandemic times has slowly started to reappear, as has his work on noroviruses. Although Moore doubts but is full of hope that the COVID brand will be fading from its job anytime soon.

“The mRNA technology is likely to stay and will give humans and animals a survival advantage against future emerging diseases and pandemics,” he said. “I am delighted to see what the future of research and, in particular, of vaccinology, has in store for us. “

Moore is also optimistic about the trajectory that new preventive and therapeutic treatments are heading, but recognizes that it will take tireless and continuous work for these advancements to have an impact on all who need them.

“I really hope that the confidence in biomedical research and these vaccine technologies will either be enhanced, restored or generated from this experience – this pandemic has revealed many loopholes and unattractive gaps in our health system and our social system in general, ”Moore said. “I hope we can use this as a lesson and a platform for useful and healthy dialogue. I can’t wait to visit my hometown and give a big, non-virtual, in-person hug to everyone I’ve communicated with! “



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