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This Week in Science: Mar 17, 2017

In this week's Science, two University of Western Australia researchers discuss the various genome-editing technologies that are being used to improve crops. While there have already been some successes in this area, they note that challenges remain, such as the need for a better understanding of plant gene function and behavior. Sociopolitical hurdles need to be overcome as well, including government regulation, public acceptance, and adoption by smaller producers. "Coordinated efforts to help provide improved varieties to smallholder farmers and accelerate their adoption are also crucial to increase food security, particularly in developing countries," they write.

Also in Science, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre scientist Mark Dawson reviews the growing field of cancer epigenomics, which aims to treat the disease by targeting the epigenetic regulators and mechanisms that contribute to its development. He discusses data linking human cancer to global alterations in DNA methylation and/or mutations in chromatin remodeling complexes, which has fueled efforts to develop drugs targeting enzymes involved in DNA methylation and histone modification, and touches on therapies designed to exploit cancer's so-called transcriptional dependencies. He highlights epigenetic drugs in the clinic, noting that drug resistance has become a problem, and suggest that a combination of epigenetic drugs plus other kinds of treatments may be more effective.