Naevi, commonly called moles, are derived from melanocytes and are probably among the most common benign (non-cancerous) pathologies in humans. They vary in number, size, shape, and colour depending on a range of internal and external factors. New naevi form and existing ones change regularly in both children and adults.

Naevi are of uppermost relevance for the diagnosis of melanoma. Studies have consistently shown that the number of naevi an individual has is the strongest predictor of risk for melanoma. Indeed, many melanomas grow adjacent to or within pre-existing naevi. Based on extrapolation from Medicare data at least 200,000 naevi are excised every year in Australia in addition to 15,000 melanomas.

An improved understanding of naevi, how they develop and change over time, and being able to decipher the underlying molecular mechanisms, will provide crucial information relevant to melanoma formation. The collaborative, multi-institutional Centre of Research Excellence for the Study of Naevi (Naevi CRE) funded by the NHMRC, comprises an integral part of this research stream.

Naevus research provides the key to better understanding melanoma development, as well as establishing more efficient prevention and early detection programs for melanoma.

Research highlights

Research into naevi includes:

The Centre of Research Excellence for the Study of Naevi

The Centre of Research Excellence for the Study of Naevi is a collaborative research project led by Professor H. Peter Soyer from The University of Queensland, and is funded by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council until the end of 2020.

The research that will be conducted as part of this CRE is urgently needed, as naevi are both the strongest predictor of melanoma risk and, separately, potentially precursor lesions of melanoma.

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