The applications of nanoparticles in various practical fields, owing to their unique properties compared with bulk materials, have been occupying the minds of scientists for several decades. In this regard, a combination of pharmacology and nanotechnology has contributed to producing newer effective anticancer and antimicrobial agents to inactivate resistant cancer cells and microorganisms, specifically multidrug-resistant ones. The physicochemical properties of nanoparticles based on metalloid, metal, and metal oxides such as selenium, silver, gold, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, copper oxide, platinum, and magnesium oxide, have been well known and referred to as anticancer and antimicrobial agents or carriers. The inactivation and eradication of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria may be mainly resulted from the oxidative damages in the bacterial medium. Overall, metalloid, metal and metal oxide NPs can be functionalized by other antibacterial or anticancer agents and biocompatible stabilizers to increase their efficiency in physiological conditions. However, the undesirable cytotoxicity of these nanoparticles in physiological conditions is the major hindrance to their application in the pharmaceutical industry and therapeutics. Nevertheless, it is expected that these problems will be solved in the near future. Therefore, the main objective of this review is to report an overview of the recent signs of progress in increasing anticancer and antibacterial mechanisms of metal and metal-based nanoparticles.
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