Kingsley Professor’s genetic research respected worldwide

Distinguished researcher Prof Nigel Laing has an international reputation.
Distinguished researcher Prof Nigel Laing has an international reputation.

KINGSLEY scientist Nigel Laing⿿s research has had a worldwide benefit for human health.

Professor Laing’s studies have led to a greater understanding of the genetic mutations that cause certain types of muscular dysfunction.

Such is his influence, a muscular condition known as Laing distal myopathy, which progressively weakens muscles from birth, was named after the Scottish-born researcher because he led the discovery of its cause.

The UWA and Harry Perkins Institute expert’s contribution to medical education has had him appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.

Prof Laing described the honour as “huge”, saying his work was “extremely rewarding”.

“What we do here in WA helps people all over the world,” he said.

“It’s fantastic we can do work here that helps people everywhere.”

In 2012, Prof Laing helped identify a new type of muscular hyperactivity in babies.

Doctors in Oxford were treating a newborn whose muscles were tensing up, but a biopsy showed the infant had a condition known as nemaline myopathy, normally associated with muscle weakness.

English scientists referred the case to Prof Laing’s Perth laboratory, which discovered it was in fact nemaline myopathy, but a never-before-seen form of it that led to muscle hyperactivity rather than inactivity. It was considered a revolutionary find because it gave doctors a new disorder to consider when infants showed signs of excessive muscular tension.