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This Week in Science: Apr 5, 2019

In this week's Science, an international research team presents the results of a genomic study that helps explain how flightlessness developed independently in different birds. The scientists focused on ratites — a class of flightless birds that includes the ostrich, kiwi, emu, and extinct moa — combining phylogenomic, developmental, and epigenomic analysis to show that the convergent evolution of loss of flight is associated more strongly with regulatory evolution in noncoding DNA than with evolutionary changes in protein-coding genes, as previous studies have suggested.

And in Science Advances, a group of Chinese researchers report the development of a system that uses near-infrared light for on-demand CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. As an alternative to viral delivery systems for CRISPR, the researchers designed nanoparticle carriers that can convert low-energy near-infrared radiation into high-energy ultraviolet light that releases CRISPR-Cas9 machinery into a cell's nucleus. They demonstrate their system by targeting a cancer-associated gene and inhibiting the proliferation of tumor cells both in vitro and in mice. "Overall, this exogenously controlled method presents enormous potential for targeted gene editing in deep tissues and treatment of a myriad of diseases," the investigators write.