This review focuses on the development of nanoparticle systems for antimicrobial drug delivery. Numerous antimicrobial drugs have been prescribed to kill or inhibit the growth of microbes such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. Even though the therapeutic efficacy of these drugs has been well established, inefficient delivery could result in inadequate therapeutic index and local and systemic side effects including cutaneous irritation, peeling, scaling and gut flora reduction. Nanostructured biomaterials, nanoparticles in particular, have unique physicochemical properties such as ultra small and controllable size, large surface area to mass ratio, high reactivity, and functionalizable structure. These properties can be applied to facilitate the administration of antimicrobial drugs, thereby overcoming some of the limitations in traditional antimicrobial therapeutics. In recent years, encapsulation of antimicrobial drugs in nanoparticle systems has emerged as an innovative and promising alternative that enhances therapeutic effectiveness and minimizes undesirable side effects of the drugs. Here the current progress and challenges in synthesizing nanoparticle platforms for delivering various antimicrobial drugs are reviewed. We also call attention to the need to unite the shared interest between nanoengineers and microbiologists in developing nanotechnology for the treatment of microbial diseases.
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