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Home / Drugs / Starting with A / Asparaginase

L-asparagine amidohydrolase from E. coli
BrandsElspar (Merck & Co. Inc)
CategoriesAntineoplastic Agents
PackagersLundbeck Inc.
Merck & Co.
Prescript Pharmaceuticals
SynonymsL-asparagine amidohydrolase
Putative L-asparaginase precursor


For treatment of acute lympocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma


In a significant number of patients with acute leukemia, the malignant cells are dependent on an exogenous source of asparagine for survival. Normal cells, however, are able to synthesize asparagine and thus are affected less by the rapid depletion produced by treatment with the enzyme asparaginase. Elspar exploits a metabolic defect in asparagine synthesis of some malignant cells.

mechanism of action

Asparaginase converts asparagine to aspartic acid and ammonia. It facilitates production of oxaloacetate which is needed for general cellular metabolism. Some malignant cells lose the ability to produce asparagine and so the loss of exogenous sources of asparagine leads to cell death.

half life

8-30 hrs