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an enzyme that catalyzes removal of the amine group that results in breakdown of asparagine; used as an antineoplastic agent against cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia in which the malignant cells require exogenous asparagine for protein synthesis.


Elspar, Kidrolase (CA)

Pharmacologic class: Enzyme

Therapeutic class: Antineoplastic (miscellaneous)

Pregnancy risk category C


Hydrolyzes asparagine (an amino acid needed for malignant cell growth in acute lymphocytic leukemia), resulting in leukemic cell death


Injection: 10,000 international units/vial (with mannitol)

Indications and dosages

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (given with other drugs, such as prednisone or vincristine, as part of antineoplastic regimen)

Children: 1,000 international units/kg I.V. daily for 10 successive days, with asparaginase initiated on day 22 of regimen, or 6,000 international units/m2 I.M. on days 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, and 28

Sole agent used to induce remission of acute lymphocytic leukemia

Adults and children: 200 international units/kg I.V. daily for 28 days

Drug desensitization regimen

Adults and children: Initially, 1 international unit I.V. Then double the dosage q 10 minutes until total planned daily dosage has been given.


• Hypersensitivity to drug
• Pancreatitis or history of pancreatitis


Use cautiously in:
• bone marrow depression, hepatic or renal disease, CNS depression, clotting abnormalities, infection
• pregnant or breastfeeding patients
• women of childbearing age.


Administer intradermal skin test as ordered at start of therapy and when drug hasn't been given for 1 week or more.
• Follow prescriber's orders for drug desensitization when indicated (usually before therapy starts and again during retreatment).

Know that drug may be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic. Follow appropriate facility policy for handling and preparing.
• Before starting drug, give allopurinol as prescribed to lower risk of neuropathy.
• Add sterile water or normal saline solution (5 ml for I.V. dose, 2 ml for I.M. dose) to powdered drug in vial.
• Filter through 5-micron filter.
• For I.V. use, inject into normal saline solution or dextrose 5% in water and infuse over 30 minutes.
• For I.M. use, give a maximum of 2 ml at any one site.
• Don't use solution unless it's clear.

If drug touches skin or mucous membranes, rinse with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes.
• Provide adequate fluid intake to prevent tumor lysis.

Adverse reactions

CNS: confusion, drowsiness, depression, hallucinations, fatigue, agitation, headache, lethargy, irritability, seizures, coma, intracranial hemorrhage and fatal bleeding

GI: nausea, vomiting, anorexia, abdominal cramps, stomatitis, hemorrhagic pancreatitis, fulminant pancreatitis

GU: glycosuria, polyuria, uric acid nephropathy, uremia, renal failure Hematologic: anemia, leukopenia, hypofibrinogenemia, depression of clotting factor synthesis, bone marrow depression

Hepatic: fatty liver changes, hepatotoxicity

Metabolic: hyperglycemia, hyperuricemia, hypocalcemia, hyperammonemia, hypoglycemia

Musculoskeletal: joint pain

Skin: rash, urticaria

Other: chills, fever, weight loss, hypersensitivity reactions, anaphylaxis, fatal hyperthermia


Drug-drug.Methotrexate: decreased methotrexate efficacy

Prednisone: hyperglycemia, increased drug toxicity

Vincristine: hyperglycemia, increased drug toxicity, increased risk of neuropathy

Drug-diagnostic tests.Alanine aminotransferase, ammonia, aspartate aminotransferase, blood urea nitrogen, glucose, uric acid: increased levels

Calcium, hemoglobin, white blood cells: decreased levels

Thyroid function tests: interference with test interpretation

Patient monitoring

Observe for signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Monitor for bleeding and hemorrhage. Watch closely for signs and symptoms of intracranial hemorrhage.
• Assess vital signs, temperature, and neurologic status.
• Monitor CBC, blood and urine glucose levels, and liver, kidney, and bone marrow function test results.
• Monitor fluid intake and output.

Patient teaching

Instruct patient to immediately report allergic response, severe abdominal pain, and unusual bleeding or bruising.
• Caution patient to avoid driving and other hazardous activities until he knows how drug affects concentration and alertness.
• Advise patient to drink plenty of fluids to ensure adequate urine output.
• Tell patient to monitor urine output and report significant changes.
• Instruct patient to avoid activities that can cause injury. Tell him to use soft toothbrush and electric razor to avoid injury to gums and skin.
• Advise patient to minimize GI upset by eating small, frequent servings of food and drinking plenty of fluids.
• Tell patient that he'll undergo regular blood testing during therapy.
• As appropriate, review all other significant and life-threatening adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the drugs and tests mentioned above.


1. An enzyme catalyzing the hydrolysis of l-asparagine to l-aspartate and ammonia.
2. The enzyme from Escherichia coli, used in the treatment of acute leukemia and other neoplastic diseases.


/as·par·a·gin·ase/ (as-par´ah-jin-ās″) an enzyme that catalyzes the deamination of asparagine; a preparation is used as an antineoplastic agent in acute lymphoblastic leukemia to reduce availability of asparagine to tumor cells.


(ə-spăr′ə-jə-nās′, -nāz′)
An enzyme isolated from bacteria that catalyzes the hydrolysis of asparagine and is used in the chemotherapeutic treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


(ə-spăr′ə-jə-nās′, -nāz′)
An enzyme isolated from bacteria that catalyzes the hydrolysis of asparagine and is used in the chemotherapeutic treatment of leukemia.


Etymology: Gk, asparagos, asparagus
an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of asparagine to asparaginic acid and ammonia. Asparaginase is used as a chemotherapeutic agent in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphosarcoma.


An ENZYME that destroys one of the 20 AMINO ACIDS from which proteins are formed. It is used in the treatment of LEUKAEMIA. The most useful are L-asparaginases which split an amino group from L-asparagine, converting it to aspartic acid. Tumour cells require asparagine which they cannot synthesize as normal cells can. The drug is on the WHO official list.


an enzyme that catalyzes the deamination of asparagine; used as an antineoplastic agent against cancers, e.g. acute lymphocytic leukemia, in which the malignant cells require exogenous asparagine for protein synthesis.
References in periodicals archive ?
The L-asparaginase activity assay developed at AIBioTech[TM] is intended to help physicians identify patients experiencing "silent inactivation" of asparaginase as well as to ensure that adequate asparaginase activity is present during treatment.
5 ml to mix with crude AK10 asparaginase and incubated at 37[degrees]C.
This move recognises asparaginase as an effective and commercially viable method of preventing acrylamide formation and adds further industry support for the use of DSM's proven acrylamide mitigation solution--PreventASe[TM]
Acute encephalopathy and hyperammonaemia complicating treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia with asparaginase.
Erythrocyte encapsulated Asparaginase introduced in first line induction therapy showed a good safety profile even in the elderly patients and is efficient for asparagine depletion.
Przedmiotem contract is the purchase and delivery: dressings, wound care specialist, imatinib, drugs different Piperacyllin + Tazobactam, Heparin, Taurolidin, asparaginase, other medicinal products to pharmacies Provincial Specialist Children~s Hospital.
The resulting strain was fermented, and the asparaginase subsequently purified before being added to the dough.
This growth is primarily attributed to the expected launch of Phase III pipeline candidates Marqibo (vincristine sulfate liposomes injection), GRASPA (asparaginase loaded into erythrocytes), recombinant asparaginase (asparaginase) and Depocyt (liposomal cytarabine) during the forecast period.
Graspa[R] showed good safety and tolerability in these particularly fragile patients, whereas other clinical studies have shown significant toxicity with forms of asparaginase.
With this important achievement, we really hope this new L Asparaginase form will open a safer way to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adults and patients older than 55 years.
The FDA approval was based on a pharmacokinetic study of intravenous asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi following hypersensitivity to E coli-derived asparaginase.