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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Cancer Vaccine Science (BIME11187)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryAgeing related diseases, including cancer, will form the major socioeconomic chronic health burdens of Western societies this coming century. Whole genome cancer sequencing has highlighted the striking patient-specific cancer bar code, highlighting the unique molecular nature of any tumour. This presents an opportunity to develop personalized therapeutics. Emerging data on the cancer-immunology interface provides a step-change in the development of novel vaccine strategies for tackling the mutated cancer landscape in a patient-specific manner. The course aims to train the student in how tumour neoantigens can be used to develop clinically useful cancer vaccines.
Course description 1) Academic description
Breakthroughs in personalized cancer therapeutics have shown that tumour specific antigens act as key signals for immune-mediated cancer rejection. A powerful paradigm has recently emerged aiming to eradicate cancer through the use of cancer-specific vaccines. Key data from clinical studies demonstrated that (i) anti-tumour T-cells in melanoma patients target distinct mutated neo-antigens, and (ii) ex-vivo stimulated tumour infiltrating lymphocytes contained T-cells recognizing mutant tumour peptides. Animal cancer models demonstrated that tumour specific antigens can stimulate, through a process named immunoediting, the selection and outgrowth of cancer cells that suppress mutant peptide production, reducing cancer immunogenicity. Improvements in our ability to identify neoantigens that can be targeted by tumour-specific T-cells using clinical material has established that mutant neo-antigens can be detected and that their expression regulates tumour rejection. Neoantigen based anti-cancer vaccines, can be based on synthetic proteins, dendritic cells primed with neoantigens, nucleic acids such as RNA, or synthetic viral vectors. Some of these approaches are just emerging in the clinic. Approaches that are amenable for cancer vaccine delivery and immune-regulation create enormous scope for developing innovative biotechnological platforms for translation to the clinic.

2) Outline content
Students will gain a critical understanding of how studying the science of cancer genomics can provide insights into personalized cancer vaccinology.
The course will cover the molecular, genetic, and clinical aspects of genome sequencing, RNA sequencing, mass spectrometry, immunology, and vaccine vectors that can be used to impact cancer rejection.

3) Student Learning Experience
Students will learn from research-scientists and industrial colleagues as well as clinicians from the field of human oncology with an interest in vaccine science. The course is delivered online and is divided into five sessions, each lasting a week. Teaching sessions will be composed of written materials and video presentations, accompanied by guided reading elements (in the form of links to journal articles), as well as independent literature searches.

Discussion of the content and reading materials will be posted to an online forum (discussion board). Course tutors will moderate discussion boards and to encourage participation the boards will be assessed.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Flexible
Course Start Date 08/08/2022
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Online Activities 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 58 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework

40% Online
60% written

For example;
Group graphical abstract (40%)
Reflective blog (60%)
Feedback Summative assessment consists of written work that demonstrates a critical understanding of the literature (worth 60% of the total mark), and an online element which for example, could be a short powerpoint presentation or an ¿in a nutshell presentation¿ or an assessed discussion board. Comprehensive written feedback is provided individually within 15 working days of the assessment deadline. Students are expected to reflect on their feedback, to seek additional clarification if appropriate, and to use this to improve on future assignments of a similar nature.

Formative assessment consists of discussion around what is expected of each piece of assessed work for the course. This is conducted in an open discussion forum for all students to contribute to and provides an opportunity to clearly understand the key requirements for each assignment before submission.

Any student can post questions about the assignment and a response will be posted on the discussion board by the course tutor within 3 working days.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principles, theories and concepts behind some of the key drivers in vaccine cancer science at a molecular, clinical and industrial level.
  2. Recognise the possible impact of vaccines on the delivery of new treatments to human patients.
  3. Draw from, and apply knowledge, from a range of discipline specific resources to develop original and creative responses to the challenges in vaccinology.
  4. Communicate, with peers from a range of audiences, with clarity regarding the critical evaluation of a wide range of molecular and clinical data.
Reading List
Much of the focus of this course will be driven through student engagement. Resources will be provided as a starting point from which it is expected that students will begin to develop their own reading lists and share this information with others.

Starting point:

Bassani-Sternberg M, Braunlein E, Klar R, Engleitner T, Sinitcyn P, Audehm S, Straub M, Weber J, Slotta-Huspenina J, Specht K et al (2016) Direct identification of clinically relevant neoepitopes presented on native human melanoma tissue by mass spectrometry. Nature communications 7: 13404
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students on this course will be encouraged to seek out ways to develop their expertise in many aspects of cancer vaccine science. They will strive for excellence in their professional practice and use established and newly developed approaches to understand the relationship between molecular hallmarks, clinical observations and the therapeutic treatment of cancer.

The independent study aspect of the course will enhance the student¿s abilities in time-management and self-motivation.

In addition, students will use self-reflection to seek out learning opportunities. Students will also use the newly acquired knowledge and critical assessment to identify and creatively tackle problems and assimilate the findings of primary research and peer knowledge in their arguments, discussions and assessments.

The structure of the interactive (discussion boards and collaborative activities) and assessment elements incorporate constant reinforcement and development of skills in the critical assessment of information and data related to both the molecular and clinical aspects of cancer biology.
Special Arrangements This course will be taught entirely by distance learning, using the virtual learning environment of Learn as the delivery platform. Course materials are protected by a secure username and password. These access details are made available to registered users only.
KeywordsVaccinology,genomics,oncology,molecular,genetic and clinical aspects of personalized medicince
Course organiserProf Ted Hupp
Course secretaryMs Deborah Walker
Tel: (0131 6)51 1513
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