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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.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 15 Mar. 1997

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-pha1.htm
Last modified: 15 March 1997.