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