Dr Rutkowski's PhD is focusing on the skin reactions which manifest in patients on tyrosine kinase inhibitors and immune checkpoint inhibitors for which he has established a specialist clinic at Salford and is actively collaborating with oncologists at the Christie hospital.
An investigation of the cutaneous toxicity of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors
New cancer therapies have emerged in recent years that are more specific than traditional chemotherapy agents. Unfortunately, many of these treatments also target processes which are important for the health of ‘normal’ tissue. One such class of cancer treatment is epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. These treatments can be very effective, but are also associated with a severe rash, affecting three out of every four patients receiving them. This rash can be severe enough to adversely affect patients’ quality of life and sometimes can cause a patient to stop taking their treatment prematurely, despite the beneficial effect it may be having on their cancer. I plan to investigate how EGFR inhibitors change the structure of the skin to better understand why such side-effects happen. I will collect and test skin samples taken from patients before and after they receive these treatments. By understanding how these drugs affect the skin, I hope to predict which patients may be at risk of these side-effects and may benefit from another cancer treatment. Alternatively, we may be able to identify treatments which patients could use with their cancer therapy to reduce these side-effects, and extend the time they can remain on their treatment.
Working with industry
During his Fellowship Dr Rutkowski has been working with Roche/Genetech. He says:
“Throughout my fellowship I have been having monthly meetings with my supervisor at Genentech. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic we had envisaged that I would be spending 3 months on site spending time both in the laboratory and also in different departments throughout the company. Unfortunately due to the current pandemic we have had to re-evaluate this. Instead I will be sending serum and media to Genentech who will be performing some high throughput luminex analysis of several of my samples. It is still envisaged that I will spend some physical time at Genentech, but this maybe after completion of my fellowship. Furthermore, we are currently writing a grant proposal for further collaborations between Genentech and our group.”