Importance of the field: Asparaginase is a prominent component of pediatric and adolescent treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. These treatment regimens are now being employed in adults. Knowledge of the efficacy and toxicity of asparaginase preparations is essential when using these treatments. AREAS COVERED BY THIS REVIEW: The search terms used were asparaginase, leukemia, pegylated, oncaspar, adolescent and young adult. Literature was searched in Pubmed/Medline with no limitations on year of publication. Abstracts from the American Society of Hematology meetings and the American Society of Clinical Oncology were searched from 2004 - 2008 using the same terms.
What the reader will gain: The reader will gain knowledge of the tolerability and efficacy of pegylated asparaginase when treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Take home message: Pegylated asparaginase is generally well tolerated in adult patients with efficacy that appears to be at least equivalent to native asparaginase preparations.