Over 12 million people die of cancer worldwide each year. Although treatments are improving, there is still a long way to go, and some cancers are still very difficult to treat. Consequently, there is a desperate need for new treatment approaches.
Learn about the rise of immunotherapy
The idea of harnessing your immune system to target tumours has been around for a long time, but in the last five years remarkable clinical trials results have led to immunotherapy being heralded as a potential turning point in the fight against cancer.
This free online course will teach you about the amazing job your immune system does in keeping you healthy, and how we can exploit it to fight cancer.
Dr Benjamin Willcox is Professor of Molecular Immunology at the University of Birmingham. He leads a team researching immune receptors and developing new cancer immunotherapies. He also teaches extensively.
Dr Heather Long is an Immunologist and Lecturer with an interest in the immune response to cancer-associated viruses. Her group is focussed on identifying immune cells with therapeutic potential.
What is a MOOC?
A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course - these are free, open, online courses designed to offer a taste of Higher Education to learners from across the UK and the world. The University of Birmingham is delivering new MOOCs in partnership with FutureLearn, the UK’s first MOOCs provider established by the Open University.
Delivered by world-class academics from the University of Birmingham, the courses enable learners worldwide to sample high-quality academic content via an interactive web-based platform from a leading global University, increasing access to higher education for a whole new cohort of learners.
The courses have been developed by senior academic staff and their content is quality-assured in line with our other programmes. The courses do not offer credits towards admission to the University of Birmingham.
Course knowledge requirements
This course will be relevant if you are interested in cancer, or enjoy learning about the immune system and medicine. Secondary or high school-level knowledge of science is sufficient to complete this course.
There will also be optional, additional materials for those already educated to undergraduate level, and those who would like to challenge themselves and explore beyond the core material.
We will explain why cancer presents the immune system with a particularly difficult challenge, and how cancer cells can escape immune attack.
You will learn how new immunotherapy strategies are transforming cancer treatment work, and why they are regarded as such a key breakthrough.
Finally, we will look ahead to new developments in cancer immunotherapy, which might provide the basis of tomorrow’s cancer treatments.