19th Horners' Company Ralph Anderson Memorial Lecture

Wednesday 8th November 2017

Royal Society of Medicine, Wimpole Street

The Horners' Livery Company represents the Plastics and Composites Industry in the City. Horns, I learnt last night, are natural polymers and polymers are the basics of plastics. We were invited to the Royal Society of Medicine to hear a lecture from Dr Matt Burke of GSK. The order was black tie, medals and badges and the lecture was to be followed by a buffet dinner. Dr Burke's talk covered the application of polymers in medicine covering: applications for pills, implants, packaging, inhalers, auto-syringes and bio-electronic implants. The bulk of his talk covered control release of drugs into the body using polymer-based pill designs. What appeared to be a relatively straightforward issue is complicated by the unpredictable way the stomach holds its contents then decides to pass the contents into the small intestine. The acidic and digestive properties of the stomach are quite different to that of the intestines and the absorption rates of a drug would be very different in each environment. Designing a pill to anticipate such behaviours is what Dr Burke and his team are seeking to achieve. What happens if they get it wrong? Well, we were shown an X ray image of a stomach containing 61 coated aspirin tablets still waiting to be passed on to the intestine. As you may gather, it was a subject I found fascinating.

The talk was followed by the buffet and an opportunity to chat to fellow masters, who seemed to find the discussion equally fascinating.