Leustatin is a chemotherapy medicine licensed for the treatment of a certain type of cancer known as hairy cell leukemia. This prescription drug comes as a liquid and is given as a slow injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV, injection). It works by preventing cancer cells from growing and multiplying. Most people using it will develop some type of reaction, such as infections, fever, or fatigue.
Leustatin® (cladribine) is a prescription medication approved to treat a type of leukemia known as hairy cell leukemia. Hairy cell leukemia is a rare cancer that affects a certain type of white blood cell. Leustatin belongs to a group of medicines known as purine analogs. It is also sometimes referred to as 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine, or simply 2-CdA.
Brand-name Leustatin is made by Centocor Ortho Biotech Products, L.P., which is now Janssen Biotech, Inc. Generic versions are made by a few different companies.
Leustatin belongs to a general group of medicines known as purine analogs. It is similar in structure to purine, a naturally occurring substance that helps make up the structure of DNA. Leustatin passes into cells, where it is incorporated into the DNA of the cells.
The drug works by preventing the DNA from replicating, which is necessary for cancer cells to divide. It also interferes with the ability of DNA to repair itself when damaged. These actions can slow down the growth of cancer cells, or even cause the cancer cells to die.
Leustatin has been studied in clinical trials that included people with hairy cell leukemia who were having symptoms and required treatment. In these studies, 88 percent of people given a 7-day course of Leustatin responded to the medication. People were considered to have responded if the number of leukemia cells decreased and their blood cell counts returned to normal.
In addition, 66 percent of people were said to have a complete response, meaning leukemia cells were no longer detectable in their blood and bone marrow, and their blood cell counts had returned to normal.