Course Description

Cancer immunotherapy is a rapidly advancing field in research and in the clinic, which focusses on the interface between the immune system, inflammation and cancer biology. To advance research in this field an understanding of each of these systems and how they interact to suppress or promote cancer progression is vital. Students taking this class will gain an understanding of how the tumor microenvironment alters and evades the immune system and the contribution of inflammation in promoting cancer progression. This course will serve as an introduction to further studies in cancer immunotherapies.

Topics covered:

  • Tumor microenvironment – the interactions between immune cells and cancer cells.
  • Polarization of Macrophages and Recruitment of Inflammatory Cells by Cancer Cells.
  • Mechanisms of Tumor- Induced Tolerance/Escape from the Immune System.
  • Immunosuppression by Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSCs)
  • Innate immune system in cancer and therapies utilizing cytokines and interferons.
  • Cancer Vaccines: preventative and therapeutic.
  • Viruses and cancer: cancer-causing viruses (eg HPV, HTLV1), oncolytic viruses and use of viruses in gene therapy.
  • Anti-cancer antibodies (including ADCs) to target cancer cells.

Learner Outcomes

When you complete the course successfully, you will be able to:

  • Describe the relationship between the tumor cells, immune cells, stromal and other cell types in the tumor microenvironment.
  • Distinguish between the various ways tumor cells evade surveillance from the immune system.
  • Design an experiment to determine the polarization of macrophages in a tumor.
  • Illustrate how the innate immune system can be utilized in cancer therapy.
  • Describe the relationships between viruses and cancer. Evaluate the efficacy of oncolytic viruses as therapeutics in cancer.
  • Describe how antibodies can be used to treat cancer.
  • Distinguish how cancer vaccines affect the immune response compared to antibody therapy


This course may apply toward the Advanced Cancer Biology Discovery and Biomedical Sciences Curiosity digital badges.


Textbook Information

A textbook is required or recommended for this course. Click here to view a textbook list for FAES courses and purchasing information. Please note that tuition does not include textbooks.


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Follow the link to review FAES Tuition Refund Policy.

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