Asparaginase (EC 18.104.22.168) is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of asparagine to aspartic acid. Asparaginases are naturally occurring enzymes expressed and produced by microorganisms. Different types of asparaginases can be used for different industrial and pharmaceutical purposes. The most common use of asparaginases is as a processing aid in the manufacture of food. Marketed under the brand names Acrylaway and PreventASe, asparaginases are used to reduce the formation of acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen, in starchy food products such as snacks and biscuits.
A different asparaginase is marketed as a drug under the brand name Elspar for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and is also used in some mast cell tumor protocols. Unlike other chemotherapy agents, it can be given as an intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous injection without fear of tissue irritation.
It is usually derived from Escherichia coli. Asparaginase produced by Erwinia chrysanthemi instead is known as crisantaspase (BAN), and is available in the United Kingdom under the trade name Erwinase.