Sequence 1: CAR-T Cell Immunotherapy Module 3:

Adaptive immune responses

The third module within Sequence 1 focuses on developing an understanding of the different cells of the immune system, and their action in cell mediated and humoral responses. It is possible that this module could take approximately 2-3 hours of class time.


VCE Biology (2017-2021)

Unit 3, Area of Study 2, Outcome 2, VCE Biology Study Design

Key knowledge

Responding to antigens

  • the characteristics and roles of components of the adaptive (specific) immune response including the actions of B lymphocytes and their antibodies (including antibody structure) in humoral immunity, and the actions of T helper and T cytotoxic cells in cell-mediated immunity


1-3 hours

Teacher background information

Module description

From the previous module, students have an understanding of how cytotoxic T-cells attack target cells as a defense mechanism to maintain a healthy body. Students can identify how medical research has moved towards harnessing and improving a person’s own defense systems as an option in the treatment of cancer.

In this module, students build on their existing knowledge, and gain insight into the roles of other cells that work together in both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses to protect the body as part of adaptive immunity. They are introduced to the concept that adaptive immunity provides a long-term sustained response that has seen ongoing remission in patients successfully treated with T cell therapy.

Additional introductory resources


Adaptive immune responses (p. 4-7)

This document provides a general overview of adaptive immunity, clarifying both the humoral and cell mediated immune responses.


Cell mediated immune response (1:34)

The quick video outlines the antigen presenting role of macrophages and the activation and replication of cytotoxic T cells.


KHANacademy: Adaptive immunity


Third Line of defence


Teaching sequence

Part 1 Adaptive (specific) Immune Responses

2 hrs

Student knowledge/ skills outcome:

Prior Knowledge:


Background and resources

Option 1: The flipped classroom: For self-directed learners (1 – 2hrs)

The flipped classroom describes a reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, in this instance via online modules, and then class time is used to assimilate the new knowledge through a range of teaching strategies.

Activities for home:

Online activity

Immunology Module: Part 1 – The Basics

Online activity

Immunology Module: Part 2 – The Normal Immune Response


Option 2: Within the classroom

Teachers use the following videos or other teacher directed strategies to introduce the range of cells, and their actions as part of the adaptive immunity


The specific immune responses introduction (5:24)

The effective use of diagrams, analogies and metaphors to introduce and illustrate the role of macrophages, antigens, antibodies within the specific immune responses


The Cell-mediated and Antibody-mediated Immune responses (11:19)

A continuation of the previous video, focusing on both cell-mediated and humoral immunity responses


Please note that Option 1 and 2 are flexible, in that the videos can be viewed by students at home, or students can complete the online modules during class time. However, the following list of activities have been identified for use in the classroom to apply and extend student’s understandings from the resources above.

Activities for classroom:
to be used in conjunction with Option 1 or 2

Activity 3.1 - Understanding the types and roles of different cells in adaptive immunity (30-40 mins)

Students demonstrate an understanding of the roles of the different components of the adaptive immune system, through a choice of literacy activity or visual organizer. The following activities use the words listed in page 10 of the resource pack (MSWord 370KB)

Immunity crossword (individual)

Students write their own definitions of a range of terms used within the Immunotherapy unit to date. Terms can be gathered from a whole-class brainstorm or the list supplied in page 10 of the resource pack (MSWord 370KB).

Evaluation options include:

  • peer - completing each other’s cross words and providing feedback
  • formative - evaluating student’s current knowledge and identify any ongoing misconceptions
  • summative - accuracy of clues for terms used in crossword. Can be used as an alternative to a quiz
Concept Map (individual or collaborative group)

This task involves the construction of a concept map that connects the concepts and terminology introduced from the immunotherapy unit to date. Students can either create a concept map using poster paper and post-it labels, or a digital resource such as Cmap. Students connect concepts using a statement called a proposition, which is an understanding of the relationship between each concept. The proposition is a complete sentence that begins with the first concept and ends with the connecting concept. Students build connections between concepts.

Groups can come together and share and build on each group’s connections between concepts as part of a teacher-led discussion towards creating a whole-class concept map.

Activity 3.2 - Modelling adaptive immunity (p. 9-11 & 21-28)

Biology action modeling is a strategy that allows students to participate in active learning where they manipulate a simple materials model that simulates a dynamic biological process. The activity is done in collaborative groups of between 3-4 students.

This activity involves students creating a story board, using images to illustrate how humoral and cell-mediated responses operate to rid the body of a pathogen and develop immunity against it in case of subsequent exposure. Students are required to cut out and use the images of the cells to illustrate:

  • A humoral immune response
  • A cell mediated immune response
  • Combined response as part of adaptive immunity

In this example, students will be able to model the interaction between antigens, B- cells, T-Cells, and antibodies. The activity above should be modified to incorporate target cells, to link the vocabulary with previous units. It can then focus on both introduced pathogens and also a person’s own cells that have become diseased as part of the concept of immunotherapy.

Note: This activity can be extended by asking students to create a digital animation from the storyboard, where students can also write and incorporate their own narration to support their animation. The teacher can create their own example to model to students, or alternatively use the following animation ‘Specific Immune system animation’, E Grigo 2011.

Part 2 Adaptive immunity and cancer

In many of the previous videos and articles in Module 1 and 2, patients who were successfully treated with CAR T cell therapy did not have a reoccurrence of their specific cancer. Many scientists predict that this is due to the patient’s own immune system maintaining a sustained immune response.

Students should be able to identify and describe how a patient’s own sustained immunity (memory cells) response may be contributing to good health. The following activities allow students to explore and describe the process of sustained immunity within the realms of cancer immunotherapy.

20 mins – 1 hr

Student knowledge/ skills outcome:


Background and resources

93 percent of advanced leukemia patients in remission after immunotherapy (2016)


Memory T Cells and Long-Term Immunity (3:04)

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Thanks to the following for contributing to the development of these sequences:

Special thanks to Ian Bentley and Mary Vamvakas