2020 Annual Appeal

For me, 2020 has been novel for all the wrong reasons and our Annual Appeal is novel for all the right reasons!

I would have given anything to have the option of this Enhancing Immunotherapy Trial for Medulloblastoma for Michael when his cancer returned. Then and now, when medulloblastoma returns the survival rate is only 5%. Yes, 5%! That’s why funding this trial was so enticing to us.

  • The trial uses the child’s own immune system to help destroy the tumor, meaning it’s less toxic to a child’s developing brain than the current radiation/chemo protocol.
  • The trial design is novel because the trial will learn from itself.
  • The trial will be fully funded by charities of families who lost a child to cancer.

Swifty is committed to fund $250,000 of this trial. 100% of your 2020 donation will fund this trial and with it, bring hope to families whose children currently have a dismal 5% chance of survival.

Until there is a cure,

Michael’s Mom

Campaign Goal: $250,000

Amount Raised: $272,977– Goal Surpassed!

100% of your donation will fund pediatric brain cancer research. All Swifty Foundation administration expenses are paid by the Gustafson family.

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Immunotherapy: Harnesses the child’s immune system to fight cancer rather than radiation/chemo.

Problem: Immunotherapy unsuccessful for MB because child’s body does not recognize tumor as a disease to eliminate.

Our Novel Approach:

  • MHC discovered as protein molecule missing from MB tumor cell, keeping cancer hidden from immune system.
  • MHC can be created on a MB cell by repurposing an old drug, TNF.
  • Combining TNF with anti-PD1 (immunotherapy agent) in mouse models with MB, immune system of mouse eradicates tumor 100%.

Current clinical trial design: Administer promising therapy, if it doesn’t work, move on to new trial with another promising therapy … again and again

Problem: Trial design results in minimal learning, without a true understanding of why previous therapy didn’t work.  

Our Novel Approach:

  • Advancement in neurosurgery allows brain tissue to be biopsied with minimal risk to the child.
  • TNF Trial Design: Biopsy – Treat – Biopsy. Relapsed MB is biopsied – administer TNF – second biopsy reveals if MHC is present on tumor cells and how those cells have changed. Novel design allows researcher to know what target looked like before therapy and to interpret what effect therapy had on tumor.
  • TNF trial design allows for cumulative learning, so each subsequent MB trial gets us closer to better treatments for children.
  • This trial design, biopsy-treat-biopsy, can be used for all pediatric brain cancer types.


  • 1970 – Present: Radiation/chemo primary treatment for Medulloblastoma, treatments are highly toxic to developing brains
  • 2013: We lose Michael to MB
  • 2020: Only 5% of kids survive when MB relapses


  • Enhancing Medulloblastoma Immunotherapy with TNF Trial Cost: $577,696
  • In collaboration with other parent led charities, Swifty has committed $250,000 to help fund the trial