Cladribine. A review of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and therapeutic potential in haematological malignancies.

PMID 7507037


Cladribine (2-chloro-2'-deoxyadenosine) is an adenosine deaminase-resistant analogue of deoxyadenosine. In the treatment of hairy cell leukaemia, cladribine has demonstrated excellent efficacy (complete response in 33 to 92% of patients) in noncomparative studies. Cladribine appears to compare favourably with other systemic agents in this indication as it achieves a high degree of efficacy after a single 7-day course, with an acceptable tolerability profile. However, long term data and direct comparative studies with interferon-alpha and pentostatin (deoxycoformycin) are required to confirm the finite advantages offered by cladribine. Preliminary results obtained in other indications including chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, cutaneous T cell lymphoma, Waldenström's macroglobinaemia and acute myeloid leukaemia in children have been sufficiently encouraging to warrant further study. Early pharmacokinetic data suggest that cladribine may be administered by oral and subcutaneous routes, both of which permit convenient outpatient therapy. Myelosuppression, the dose-limiting toxicity of cladribine, and culture-negative fever are the most common adverse effects associated with therapy. However, cladribine appears to be only rarely associated with many of the other adverse effects that characterise antineoplastic therapy. In the weeks post-treatment, there is a small but definite risk of serious infection; infections with a fatal outcome have been reported in a number of studies with cladribine. In conclusion, preliminary data concerning cladribine have been extremely encouraging. Should early response rates in patients with hairy cell leukaemia be sustained, the efficacy of the drug, together with a short treatment regimen, a favourable tolerability profile, and the possibility of oral therapy, suggest that cladribine is likely to supersede other agents available for this indication.

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2-Chloro-2′-deoxyadenosine, antileukemic