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L-Asparaginase is an enzyme that depletes L-Asparagine an important nutrient for cancer cells resulting in cancer/tumor cell starvation. L-asparaginase is an anti-tumor agent derived from E.coli., which can inhibit the growth of malignant cells. It is used mainly for the induction of remission in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Because of the lymph node origin of malignant B cells in Multiple Myeloma, L-Asparagine is an essential amino acid for their cell metabolism, and, consequently, L-Asparaginase may be of value in managing the disease.
The rationale behind asparaginase is that it takes advantage of the fact that ALL cells are unable to synthesize the non-essential amino acid asparagine whereas normal cells are able to make their own asparagine. These leukemic cells depend on circulating asparagine. Asparaginase however catalyzes the conversion of L-asparagine to aspartic acid and ammonia. This deprives the leukemic cell of circulating asparagine. L-Asparaginase produced from E.Coli has 303 amino acids and a molecular mass of 31731 Dalton.