DS-5670a, a novel mRNA-encapsulated lipid nanoparticle vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2: Results from a phase 2 clinical study

Vaccine. 2023 Aug 31;41(38):5525-5534. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.07.012. Epub 2023 Aug 14.


Background: DS-5670a is a vaccine candidate for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) harnessing a novel modality composed of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) encoding the receptor-binding domain (RBD) from the spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles. Here, we report the safety, immunogenicity, and pharmacokinetic profile of DS-5670a from a phase 2 clinical trial in healthy adults who were immunologically naïve to SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: The study consisted of an open-label, uncontrolled, dose-escalation part and a double-blind, randomized, uncontrolled, 2-arm, parallel-group part. A total of 80 Japanese participants were assigned to receive intramuscular DS-5670a, containing either 30 or 60 µg of mRNA, as two injections administered 4 weeks apart. Safety was assessed by characterization of treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs). Immunogenicity was assessed by neutralization titers against SARS-CoV-2, anti-RBD immunoglobulin (Ig)G levels, and SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific T cell responses. Plasma pharmacokinetic parameters of DS-5670a were also evaluated.

Results: Most solicited TEAEs were mild or moderate with both the 30 and 60 µg mRNA doses. Four participants (10 %) in the 60 µg mRNA group developed severe redness at the injection site, but all cases resolved without treatment. There were no serious TEAEs and no TEAEs leading to discontinuation. Humoral immune responses in both dose groups were greater than those observed in human convalescent serum; the 60 µg mRNA dose produced better responses. Neutralization titers were found to be correlated with anti-RBD IgG levels (specifically IgG1). DS-5670a elicited antigen-specific T helper 1-polarized cellular immune responses.

Conclusions: The novel mRNA-based vaccine candidate DS-5670a provided favorable immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 with a clinically acceptable safety profile. Confirmatory trials are currently ongoing to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of DS-5670a as the primary vaccine and to assess the immunogenicity when administered as a heterologous or homologous booster.

Trial registry: https://jrct.niph.go.jp/latest-detail/jRCT2071210086.

Keywords: COVID-19; DS-5670a; Receptor-binding domain; SARS-CoV-2; mRNA vaccine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 Serotherapy
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Lipid Nanoparticles
  • Immunoglobulin G