What is an allergic reaction?
Allergic reactions trigger an immune response throughout the body
An immune response is when the body’s immune system (the part of the body that fights infection and illness) recognizes something as foreign or harmful and attacks it in an attempt to destroy it. Just as the body sometimes reacts to dust, pollen, bee stings, and certain foods such as peanuts, it can also react to medicines meant to treat illness.
Allergic reactions can occur as a result of asparaginase therapy
- Allergic reactions usually happen after repeated administration of asparaginase because the immune system starts to react more quickly to the therapy than it did after the first treatment
- Most allergic reactions occur quickly, but some can occur up to 6 hours after treatment
- Being treated again with the same asparaginase triggering the allergic reaction can cause a similar or even worse reaction
- An allergic reaction can be a sign that the asparaginase therapy isn’t working as it should
Up to 3 out of 10
patients may experience an allergic reaction after E. coli-derived asparaginase therapy
The antibodies the body creates during an allergic reaction will recognize the asparaginase as foreign and attack it again.
Experiencing an allergic reaction may signal that the asparaginase therapy is not successfully eliminating the cancer cells’ asparagine supply. Depleting cancer cells’ asparagine supply helps kill off the cancer cells, which is the goal of asparaginase therapy.
How asparaginase causes allergic reactions
Cells in the body may create antibodies after asparaginase enters the body.
Those antibodies may circulate throughout the blood and can also bind to immune cells.
Upon reexposure to asparaginase, the antibodies may attach to asparaginase, blocking its ability to break down asparagine. Eventually, the asparaginase gets removed from the body before it can work properly.
When antibodies attach to asparaginase, the immune cells recruited by the antibodies can release additional chemicals called mediators, which can cause symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Switching to another form of asparaginase therapy that is not derived from E. coli can help ensure treatment continues uninterrupted.
An allergic reaction can affect the body in different ways
Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction may include one or more of the following:
Mouth: Swelling of lips, itchy throat, tongue
Respiratory: Shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain and/or tightness
Stomach: Vomiting, diarrhea, cramps
General: Headache, nasal congestion, watery eyes, sweating, feeling of impending doom, loss of consciousness
Heart: Drop in blood pressure, dizziness, faintness
Skin: Itching, redness, swelling, hives
After an allergic reaction to asparaginase derived from E. coli, the doctor may recommend switching to a different kind of asparaginase. This change allows most patients to finish treatment uninterrupted.
An asparaginase therapy such as RYLAZE, which is derived from Erwinia chrysanthemi, has the same effect on asparagine as an asparaginase therapy derived from E. coli.
Work with the healthcare team to understand what that means. The asparaginase therapy derived from Erwinia chrysanthemi is administered differently than the asparaginase therapy causing the allergic reaction. RYLAZE is short-acting. As such, RYLAZE is given more frequently to help ensure patients can maintain effective levels of asparaginase in their blood.
- It is important to pay attention to any side effects and inform the healthcare team right away if something seems different or worse than what was expected.