Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Streptococcus Pyogenes. Photo:BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

Scientists may have discovered one of the mysterious reasons behind why some children have recurrent tonsillitis (RT) when they have a strep infection, finding there may be a genetic predisposition in some people, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine Wednesday.

Why it matters: There are an estimated 600 million cases of strep globally and 750,000 tonsillectomies performed in the U.S., mostly caused by RT. It can greatly disrupt children's education, force parents to miss work, and in developing countries without large amounts of antibiotics, it can lead to dangerous acute rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease.

What they did: Over a 7-year period, the team collected and tested tissue samples from tonsils and blood tests from 66 children with RT and 80 children with sleep apnea (as a control group).

What they found: Children with RT had smaller germinal centers in their tonsils with fewer key immune cells (called GC-Tfh). Plus, their blood tests showed much lower antibodies to the strep bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus, or GAS) in their blood, study author Shane Crotty tells Axios.

  • They also identified two variations in genes associated with RT.
  • "That is relevant for clinical practice as well as interesting from an infection biology perspective. Their results indicate that some children are genetically more prone to get recurrent GAS tonsillitis, and they shed light on both the genes and the biological mechanisms involved," says Georgia Institute of Technology's Kristofer Wollein Waldetoft, who was not part of this study.
  • "The study does suggest something is different about the immune response of children labelled as having recurrent tonsillitis, and further study might clarify the exact components of this immune response that would then guide streptococcal vaccine development," Children's National Health Systems' Bernhard L. Wiedermann, who was not part of this study, tells Axios.

Yes, but: Wiedermann points out "the study lacks sufficient detail about the children’s clinical data [like precision of strep diagnostics]. Plus, the number of children studied is very small, making it difficult to generalize these findings to children in the U.S. or elsewhere."

What's next: Crotty, who's a professor at La Jolla Institute for Immunology and at UC San Diego, agrees that this small study is a first step.

  • Crotty says they are encouraging larger, multi-institutional studies to be conducted to validate the findings in different locations.
  • After that, they hope to develop a diagnostic test, which could immediately indicate if a child should have their tonsils removed or not, and perhaps lead to a vaccine later down the road, he adds.
  • "It could be a first step towards diagnostics, and I’d hope that it could eventually lead to the development of other interventions than tonsillectomy," Wollein Waldetoft tells Axios.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.