Pathogens and immunology

This topic covers a broad range of biological concepts that build on previous knowledge and understanding. Within this topic, students are introduced to a variety of pathogenic micro-organisms and need to understand the various transmission routes and methods of spread among populations and communities. The immune system is perhaps one of the most complex systems in the human body; students will need to relate previous understanding around cells and biological molecules to explain how antigens and antibodies interact and how both cell mediated and antibody-mediated responses can deal with invading pathogens.

The topic of pathogens provides opportunities to put scales and units of measurement in context; for example, appreciating the differences between the size of viruses, prions and cellular pathogens. Linking various named examples of pathogens to real life case studies and examples is essential for bringing this topic to life. There are many topical examples of diseases caused by the pathogens listed in the specification and the COVID pandemic provides an obvious recent example of disease transmission and spread.

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