GlaxoSmithKline has launched two clinical trials in Europe as part of an effort to develop a vaccine to combat avian influenza virus in humans.

The bird flu called H5N1 has the potential to develop into a pandemic.

GSK is launching one trial in Germany involving 400 healthy adults and another in Belgium that also includes 400 healthy adults.

“Both trials are testing the vaccine’s safety and ability to boost individuals’ immune response against H5N1,” GSK said in a statement. Tested vaccines are made from inactivated (killed) H5N1 virus. Different dose levels are being studied. Volunteers are to receive two vaccinations approximately three weeks apart. The studies will allow GSK to select an optimal dose and formulation for subsequent safety trials in groups at high risk of complications following influenza infection, such as children and the elderly.”

GSK said it planned to have a vaccine in production before the end of the year.