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Seeking alternative option

JestyWhen Sophy Jesty was twenty years old and an animal science major at Cornell, she met N. Sydney Moise, DVM, MS, Dipl ACVIM (internal medicine, cardiology), now professor of medicine and chief of the section of cardiology at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Jesty had worked with horses all her life, having been attracted by their gentle nature. She began assisting Moise as a student research assistant and that experi­ence, Jesty says, “put the cardiology bug in me.”

Today, as a member of the College’s first class of innovative Clinical Fellows, Jesty BS ’94, DVM ’01, Dipl ACVIM (large animal internal medicine, cardiology) has spent some of the last two years tackling the most common cardiovascu­lar cause of poor performance in horses: atrial fibrillation. Supported by the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund for Equine Research, she has evaluated a new antiarrhythmic drug for its efficacy in equine atrial fibrillation. If proven safe and effective, the drug could serve as an alternative for quinidine, which although effective, is associated with harmful side effects.

“We found the new drug to be effective in converting the atrial fibrillation to a normal rhythm in all of our test cases,” said Jesty, who worked closely with Drs. Robert Gilmour, Bruce Kornreich, and Flavio Fenton to perfect a system by which promising anti-arrhythmic pharmaceuti­cals could be tested safely.

“Using the equine atrium optical mapping setup, we can screen for new antiarrhythmic drug efficacy without risking the welfare of the animal during initial tests,” said Jesty. “In addition, the knowledge that we gain from the in vitro tests helps to ensure the safety of the animal in future tests. With the results we have in hand, we are poised to safely and efficiently evaluate the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the new drug in horses.”