Most people probably haven't heard of hydrogels, but we are all surrounded by "hydrophilic" substances. Hydros is Greek for water; philia means love. A hydrophilic substance is attracted to water and tends to be dissolved by it. Among foods, salt is hydrophilic. Sugar is too, and—like salt—is sometimes used to draw water out of foods: sugar sprinkled on cut fruit will make the fruit mushy and wet.
Not all hydrophilic substances lose themselves by disappearing into liquid. A colloid is a type of chemical mixture in which one substance is dispersed evenly throughout another. Unlike a solution, the particles of the dispersed substance are only suspended in the mixture. Soap is a colloid; it dissolves in both water and oils.
All of this explains the hydrogel—a network of repeating molecules linked together in a very long strand that is hydrophilic, with water acting as the dispersion medium. Hydrogels sometimes appear as colloidal gels. Hydrogels are commonly used in regenerative medicine, as scaffolds in tissue engineering to help repair or replace portions of tissues; as sustained-release drug delivery systems; to provide absorption, desloughing and debriding of necrotic and fibrotic tissue; and in dressings to heal burns or other hard-to-heal wounds.
Now one company has put this all together to help meet today's urgent need for better wound management. Alliqua, Inc. is a wound management and drug delivery company developing innovative transdermal wound care and drug delivery technologies. The company has created SilverSeal, a flexible, sterile hydrogel dressing, only 1.4 cm thick, that incorporates the antimicrobial properties of silver; and Hydress, a dressing which, although not silver-based, mirrors the flexibility, sterility and non-adherent properties of SilverSeal.
Alliqua is dedicated to using hydrogels in the best way for superior wound care and transdermal drug delivery. As Alliqua's CEO David Johnson explains, "Hydrogels have been around for a long time, but modern medicine is just now finding remarkable new ways to use them. We believe our proprietary hydrogel technology can play a big part in allowing wounds to heal better and faster, both in the hospital and at home."
For more information, visit alliqua.com.