Background: Surface modification of nanoparticles with targeting moieties can be
achieved through bioconjugation chemistries to impart new Functionalities. Various polymeric
nanoparticles have been used for the formulation of nanoparticles such as naturally-occurring
protein cages, virus-like particles, polymeric saccharides, and liposomes. These polymers have
been proven to be biocompatible, side effects free and degradable with no toxicity.
Objective: This paper reviews available literature on the nanoparticles pharmaceutical and medical
applications. The review highlights and updates the customized solutions for selective drug
delivery systems that allow high-affinity binding between nanoparticles and the target receptors.
Methods: Bibliographic databases and web-search engines were used to retrieve studies that assessed
the usability of nanoparticles in the pharmaceutical and medical fields. Data were extracted
on each system in vivo and in vitro applications, its advantages and disadvantages, and its ability to
be chemically and genetically modified to impart new functionalities. Finally, a comparison
between naturally occurring and their synthetic counterparts was carried out.
Results: The results showed that nanoparticles-based systems could have promising applications in
diagnostics, cell labeling, contrast agents (Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computed Tomography),
antimicrobial agents, and as drug delivery systems. However, precautions should be taken
to avoid or minimize toxic effect or incompatibility of nanoparticles-based systems with the biological
systems in case of pharmaceutical or medical applications.
Conclusion: This review presented a summary of recent developments in the field of pharmaceutical
nanotechnology and highlighted the challenges and the merits that some of the nanoparticles-
based systems both in vivo and in vitro systems.