Project in highlight: Investigating the immune interplay of how moles turn into melanoma


Despite advances in our knowledge concerning the diagnosis of naevi (or moles) it is still not known how well clinical screening with the naked eye or imaging techniques, combined with genetics, predicts risk of developing melanoma.

There has been much study into the complicated interplay between cancer and the host immune system, however research is now underway to investigate the earliest immune reactions to melanocytes in transforming naevi.

The project is led by Professor Mark Smyth, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, being funded by the Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Research Centre, a joint collaboration of The University of Queensland (UQ) and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

This study will utilise various genetic analyses and immunological characteristics of clinically and dermoscopically well defined naevi to help improve a diagnosis of naevus transformation.

Dr Michele Teng, co-investigator on the project, said that “By identifying what types of immune cells are present or absent in benign and dysplastic naevi, we might be able to determine what role they play in contributing to naevi transformation.”

It generate new data by exploring the immune context of different types of naevi, generating more naevi cultures, and comparing this data with germline and somatic markers of early transformation in the same lesions.

This project was the recipient of an ASSC Enabling Grant in 2016.

Media: Dr Michele Teng,; Melissa Kerr,