In the 1967 movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman's character, Ben, is told that the future lies in one word: plastics. In 2013, in the real world of wound protection, that one word is: hydrogels. Those who have never heard of them should read on.

Anyone who has ever had a bandage-covered cut, bruise or other skin wound has experienced the moment of truth when the bandage has to come off -- either to change it or because the wound has healed. What if the bandage had properties that could help heal the wound more quickly than other bandages?  

A highly focused biopharmaceutical company, Alliqua, Inc., based in Langhorne, PA, has created a hydrogel-based bandage -- called Hydress® -- that manages this trick. It is flexible, sterile and non-adherent; can absorb twice its weight in exudate (blood, pus and other bodily fluids), unlike other hydrogels; and even helps alleviate pain.

As Alliqua's CEO David Johnson explains, hydrogels are just what the name implies: gel-like or colloidal substances made of water and solids. These compounds can be created chemically, through a combination of ultraviolet cross-linking and chemical interface or by mixing polymer and water, and then exposing it to an electron beam, creating a "sheet" of water.  

Hydress provides a moist healing environment and does not bond to the wound, skin or hair. Hydress sheets can hold themselves in place; however, since they are non-adherent, they can be removed easily without causing additional trauma to the wound bed. They have an immediate cooling effect which promotes vaso-restriction, promoting a soothing effect.

Johnson believes that Alliqua's proprietary formulation of hydrogels in Hydress® bandages -- and the other wound protection products the company produces -- have a major competitive advantage. These include the way their bandages adhere to the human body, the stability of the gel, and the overall purity, consistency and reproducibility of the product -- meaning every bandage performs equally well. Several studies support Johnson's view. End result: a better bandage with a myriad of uses in healthcare.

For more information on Alliqua and Hydress®, visit