Module 1:

Introduction to Antigens/Self and non-self recognition

This module is an introduction to key concepts of immunity and the associated scientific nomenclature that comes with this difficult topic. Learning about the ABO blood groups will provide insight into the scientific application of the antigenic response. This module is expected to take up 1-2 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

  • an antigen as a unique molecule or part of a molecule that initiates an immune response including the distinction between non-self antigens, self-antigens and allergens


1-2 hours

Student learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module students will:

  • state and explain the definitions of antigens and allergens
  • describe and explain of the ABO blood groups in terms of antigens and antibodies
  • explain the benefits and technical issues confronting scientists in the formulation of artificial blood for transfusion

Teacher background information



Self vs. non-self immunity (14:28)

This video gives a detailed description of how B-cells and T-cells distinguish between self and non-self. It also gives an example of an autoimmune disease towards the end of the clip.

Web page


This is a definition of allergen explained well with diagrams from Bioninja.

Web page

ABO and RhD

This page is from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service showing blood group inheritance.


Blood Types (10:45)

Explains the importance of blood grouping and refers to Punnett squares highlighting inheritance. It also touches on Rh factor in pregnancy.

Web page

Australian Red Cross Blood Service

Blood Bank donor drive page promoting blood donation and why donations are needed.


International Day of Immunology (pdf)

This booklet gives a broad overview of all things immunology. Pages of interest for this first module include page 2, General Immunology, page 5 Transplantation and page 8 Australia, a world leader in immunology.


True Blood: Scientists Plan First Synthetic Blood Transfusion For 2017, A Step Closer To Perpetually Filled Blood Banks (2015)

Health news article on proposed trialling of synthetic blood. The article is dated 2015 meaning that if these trials go ahead, we may see results of this trial in the very near future.

Journal Article

Artificial blood (2008 pdf)

A great article titled Artificial Blood published in 2008.

Journal Article

Artificial Blood- A Game Changer for Future Medicine Where are we Today? (2015 pdf)

Published in the Journal for Blood Disorders and Transfusion in 2015.

Understanding the nature of ABO blood grouping and the immune response
Understanding the formulation of artificial blood for transfusions
Where to from here?

Teaching sequence

Case study/practical

Determining an unknown blood group

In this experiment, simple liquids that mimic blood are used to demonstrate blood typing.

Discussion points

These questions could be used as a basis for a research project, scientific poster or just to promote scientific thinking.

  • What is the importance of blood grouping?
  • What other laboratory testing needs to be performed prior to transplantation?
  • Why are scientists interested in creating blood?
  • For artificial or synthetic blood to be successful what properties should it have?
  • Why has there been many setbacks with creating blood?
Interactive Website

This site is designed to test AoS 2 Immunology

It has online flash cards, definitions, spelling online test questions and two interactive games.

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

Special thanks to Ian Bentley and Mary Vamvakas