There is tremendous potential for living cells to be used for the biosynthesis of drugs, therapeutic proteins, and other valuable commodities. However, the need for specialised equipment and refrigeration for production and distribution has made it crazy difficult for these technologies to be used in the remote and low resource areas where they are often needed. To circumvent this challenge, a team has invented a portable device that uses pellets made from the freeze-dried bits of cells that manage DNA and arrange for protein manufacture which can be easily hydrated and put to use.
The researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of their new technique by using it to manufacture the proteins that are needed for the vaccine for diphtheria. This synthetic foundry that they've created has the potential to be harnessed for the production of other vaccines and, if it proves financially viable to mass produce, could save a lot of lives in the developing world.
You can read more in The Economist article that I wrote on this here.