Advanced Immunology, Biotherapeutics and Vaccines


This module reviews the cells, organs, and microenvironments of the immune system, the mechanisms involved in humoral and cellular immunity, and the structures, functions, and mechanisms of action of different antibody classes.  The relationship between the specific structure of IgG and its functions in binding antigen and mediating biological effector functions such as antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) are evaluated.

The development of antibody-based therapeutics, to date, is reviewed.  The structures of mouse, chimeric, humanised, and human monoclonal antibodies, respectively, are examined, and the various technologies used in their production are described.  Therapeutic antibodies in cancer therapy are analysed and methods to elicit cell death are reviewed including ADCC/CDC, direct targeting of cancer cells to induce apoptosis, targeting the tumour microenvironment, and targeting immune checkpoints.

Chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy is investigated and evaluated as an anti-cancer therapy.  The structure and evolution of CARs from first to fourth generations are analysed in terms of construct and function.  Limitations in autologous CAR-T cell therapy are reviewed.  The development of a universal CAR-T (UCAR-T) cell therapy is introduced, and comparisons are made between UCAR-T cell therapy and original CAR-T cell therapy.  Other immune cells including natural killer cells (i.e. CAR-NK cell therapy), as an alternative to the use of CAR-T cells, are investigated.

Other antibody-based therapies including immunocytokines, antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), antibody-radionuclide conjugates (ARC), bispecific antibodies, nanobodies, and immunoliposomes are also overviewed.

Strategies used for passive and active immunisation are analysed and traditional and current methods used in the development of vaccines are evaluated with reference to specific examples.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Evaluate the relative roles of key organs, cells, and molecules of the immune system in eliciting an immune response to pathogens and activating the immune response to vaccination.

  2. Compare and contrast the various antibody-associated biological effector mechanisms in eliciting the cell death/removal of pathogens and abnormal self-cells.

  3. Assess the strategies used in the development of antibody based-therapeutics, their structures and targets, and mechanisms involved in eliciting cell-death. 

  4. Analyse the mechanisms of passive and active immunisation, different approaches to the development of vaccines and their effectiveness in eradicating disease with reference to specific examples

  5. Apply, process, and condense technical knowledge of the immune system in the preparation of reports, posters, presentations, and in the completion of continuous assessment quizzes.

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% Final Exam 50%