As a type of chemotherapy treatment, Nipent is used to treat a rare type of cancer known as hairy cell leukemia. This prescription medicine is given as an injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV, injection) once every other week. It works by preventing cancer cells from growing and multiplying. Side effects occur often and may include nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.


What Is Nipent?

Nipent® (pentostatin) is a prescription medication approved to treat hairy cell leukemia, a rare type of blood and bone marrow cancer. This drug is approved for use as a single agent, which means it is used alone, not in combination with other chemotherapy medicines.
Nipent belongs to a group of medicines known as purine analogs. It may also sometimes be called 2-deoxycoformycin, or simply DCF.
(Click Nipent Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Brand-name Nipent is made Hospira, Inc.

How Does Nipent Work?

Nipent works by blocking the action of adenosine deaminase, a naturally occurring enzyme in the body. Adenosine deaminase breaks down deoxyadenosine triphosphate (or simply dATP), a natural compound in the body that can be toxic to cells. When adenosine deaminase is blocked by Nipent, dATP levels rise in T-cells and B-cells (types of white blood cells), including the abnormal B-cells associated with hairy cell leukemia.
The high level of dATP is toxic to the leukemia cancer cells and prevents DNA in the cells from copying itself. Because DNA must replicate to divide, Nipent slows down the growth of cancer cells and may even cause the cancer cells to die.

Clinical Effects

Nipent has been studied in trials that included people with hairy cell leukemia who were having symptoms and required treatment. In these studies, up to 85 percent of people were considered to have a complete response to the drug, which means leukemia cells were no longer detectable in their blood and bone marrow, and their blood cell counts had returned to normal. It took about 4.2 to 6.6 months for people to achieve a complete response to treatment.
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Nipent Chemotherapy Information

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