Takeda has signed a deal with the USA's Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals linked to hopes that the Japanese major's diabetes blockbuster Actos could be a useful tool in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

The firms have entered into an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement regarding Zinfandel's TOMM40 assay as a biomarker in connection with Actos (pioglitazone) for the risk of Alzheimer's in high-risk older adults with normal cognition. Under the terms of the pact, Zinfandel will receive an upfront fee of $9 million and subsequent payments of up to $78 million, plus commercial milestones and royalties.

Shigenori Ohkawa, chief scientific officer at Takeda, said there is "intense interest within the medical community in identifying treatments to help delay progression or potentially prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease, in an effort to reduce the burden of this disease". Actos is a major earner but is going off-patent in the USA soon and last month a patent infringement lawsuit was settled with Teva which will see the Israeli firm sell an authorised generic version of Actos starting August 2012.