Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 11:42 UK

Bird flu vaccine volunteer appeal

Researchers want to test the vaccine on a wider group

A vaccine to combat the most dangerous form of bird flu is to be tested on people in Leicestershire.

Researchers are working on a vaccine for the H5 strain, commonly carried by birds, which is thought to be the most dangerous of the bird flu strains.

Leicester Royal Infirmary is asking for hundreds of volunteers to take part in a clinical trial.

The 1m programme is designed to gauge the most effective dose needed to guard against the flu.

Bird flu is mainly confined to wild and domestic birds but since 1999 it has killed about 180 people worldwide, roughly 60% of those who contracted it.

'Unique advantage'

The new vaccine has already proved to be effective on a small scale but now scientists want to test it in the wider population.

Professor Karl Nicholson, consultant physician at Leicester hospitals and professor of infectious diseases at the University of Leicester, is leading the research.

He said: "People in Leicester have a unique advantage to access this vaccine and be protected against a pandemic if it occurs."

The trial is looking for healthy volunteers of all ages and potential recruits are reassured there are very few side effects.

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