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Imperial College London

Immunology: Immune Failures and Cancer Immunology

Imperial College London via Coursera


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Our immune system is a powerful network. It protects us from external threats, such as harmful substances and pathogenic agents, as well as cellular changes which could lead to diseases. Complications emerge when our natural defences do not function properly, which can result in immune disorders. These can take the form of less severe issues such as insect allergy. Others are more harmful, such as auto aggressive immune reactions, that lead to localised or systemic tissue damage. In this course, you will learn about immune system failures which can cause insufficient responses to internal or external threats. We will look at immune deficiencies. These weaken an individual’s immunity and leave them unable to effectively fight infections or manage disease. We will examine the consequences of chronic inflammation on the immune system, in the context of ectopic lymphoid organs. We will also examine immune system malfunctions in tumour development, and the role of viral infections in human cancer.


  • Immunodeficiencies
    • In module one, you will explore the genetic regulation of our immune system. Through the example of primary immuno deficiencies and looking at their detrimental effect on our innate and/or adaptive responses, you will discuss their individual pathological manifestation and some potential therapeutic avenues of investigation.
  • Tertiary lymphoid structures
    • In module two, our expert will take you on a journey to explore tertiary lymphoid structures. These are immunological organisations that develop in tissues affected by chronic inflammation in response to various alienations. Interestingly, you will explore why these structures can sometime hinder or benefit disease resolution.
  • Tumour immunology
    • In module three, you will discover that the outcome of cancer heavily relies on the crosstalk and relationship between the tumour and immune cells found in its micro-environment. You will explore this relationship from the point of view of tumour escape mechanisms and how these manipulate our immune response. Finally, you will learn about therapies that use our immune system to combat this deadly disease.
  • Viral persistence and human cancer
    • With approximately ten percent of the global cancer burden potentially attributed to viruses, our last module of the course, module four, will explore the relationship between viral persistence on cancers. Importantly, as viral infection is not sufficient for cancer to develop, you will investigate the physiological contribution of our immune system in this complex landscape.

Taught by

Malgorzata (Maggie) Trela and Sophie Rutschmann


4.6 rating at Coursera based on 54 ratings

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