Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Leuk Lymphoma. 1993;10 Suppl:153-7.

L-asparaginase and PEG asparaginase--past, present, and future.

Author information

  • 1Department of Hematology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


L-asparaginase is an enzyme which hydrolyses asparagine. Since the 1960s it has been known that some leukemic cells are deficient in asparagine synthetase and therefore cannot manufacture sufficient quantities of this essential amino acid to maintain cell viability. L-asparaginase is predominantly useful in acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) although responses have been noted in patients with acute myeloid leukemia, lymphoma, and rarely other tumors. L-asparaginase has been used in conjunction with methotrexate and ara-C in combination programs in leukemia. The major side-effect limiting the usefulness of L-asparaginase is allergic reactions. In addition, it is probable that neutralizing antibodies develop which shorten the half life of the drug so that the goal of depletion of plasma levels of asparagine cannot be attained or maintained. Polyethylene glycol (M.W. 5000) can be conjugated to L-asparaginase at sites not involving the active site of the enzyme. This enables free access of a small molecule, asparagine, to the active site of the enzyme but prevents uptake by the reticuloendothelial system, greatly decreasing the probability of developing antibodies against the asparaginase and prolongs the circulating half life of the drug. In a phase I/II study conducted at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 37 heavily pretreated patients with refractory hematologic malignancy were treated. The age range from 15 to 73 years, median 49 years. Nineteen patients had ALL, 15 lymphoma, two myeloma, and one Hodgkin's disease. The dose levels of PEG L-asparaginase varied from 250 IU/m2 up to 8000 IU/m2. The pharmacokinetic profile demonstrated a monophasic half life consistent with a one compartment model with a single elimination phase.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Taylor & Francis
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk