One of the success stories of biotechnology has been the creation of transgenic plants or animals which contain genes transferred from some other organism. An important group of such animals is able to produce human proteins in their milk which can be harvested for use as pharmaceuticals. Animals have been made, for example, which express compounds active against diabetes, arthritis, haemophilia, emphysema, and gastro-intestinal infections. A common term in the industry for this method of producing medically active substances is pharming, a punning blend of pharmaceutical and farming. The term may have originated in the name of the company Gene Pharming Europe, now called Pharming Health Care Products, which bred Hermann the transgenic bull in 1990 and now plans to milk rabbits to harvest a drug against Pompe’s disease, a rare genetic disorder. The derived term pharm is sometimes employed, usually attributively in such phrases as pharm products; pharmer is seen only rarely. Related terms are biofactory for a transgenic animal and biopharming for the process.
Page created 15 Mar. 1997
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