Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2018
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Consolidation, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Principles of Consolidation
All intercompany transactions and accounts have been eliminated in consolidation.
Use of Estimates, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Use of Estimates
The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. Such estimates and assumptions impact, among others, the following: the estimated useful lives for property and equipment, fair value of warrants, preferred stock and stock options granted for services or compensation, respectively, estimates of the probability and potential magnitude of contingent liabilities, and the valuation allowance for deferred tax assets due to continuing and expected future operating losses.
Making estimates requires management to exercise significant judgment. It is at least reasonably possible that the estimate of the effect of a condition, situation or set of consolidated financial statements, which management considered in formulating its estimate could change in the near term due to one or more future confirming events. Accordingly, actual results could differ from those estimates.
Noncontrolling Interest [Policy Text Block]
Non-controlling Interest
The Company’s non-controlling interest represents the minority shareholder’s ownership interest related to the Company’s subsidiary, SYN Biomics. The Company reports its non-controlling interest in subsidiaries as a separate component of equity in the Consolidated Balance Sheets and reports both net loss attributable to the non-controlling interest and net loss attributable to the Company’s common stockholders on the face of the Consolidated Statements of Operations. On September 5, 2018, the Company entered into an agreement with the minority shareholder for an investigator-sponsored Phase 2 clinical study of SYN-010. Prior to this agreement and IRB approval in December 2018, the Company’s equity interest in SYN Biomics was 88.5% and the non-controlling stockholder’s interest was 11.5%. In consideration of the support, the Company issued additional shares of stock to the minority shareholder. he Company’s equity interest in SYN Biomics is now 
83.0% and the non-controlling stockholder’s interest is 17.0%.
This is reflected in the Consolidated Statements of Equity (Deficit).
Revenue Recognition, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Revenue Recognition
The Company records revenue when as it transfers control of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the company expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. This may include identifying performance obligations in the contract, estimating the amount of variable consideration to include in the transaction price and allocating the transaction price to each separate performance obligation. We recognize milestone payments or upfront payments that have no contingencies as revenue when payment is received.
Grants,Policy [Policy Text Block]
Grants received from research collaboration agreements with third parties are recognized as a reduction in the related research and development expense in the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
Risks And Uncertainties [Policy Text Block]
Risks and Uncertainties
The Company’s operations could be subject to significant risks and uncertainties including financial, operational and regulatory risks and the potential risk of business failure. These conditions may not only limit the Company’s access to capital, but also make it difficult for its customers, its vendors and its ability to accurately forecast and plan future business activities.
Cash and Cash Equivalents, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Cash and Cash Equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents include cash and highly liquid short-term investments with original maturities of three months or less.
Property, Plant and Equipment, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Property and Equipment
Property and equipment is recorded at cost and depreciated or amortized using the straight-line method over the estimated useful life of the asset or the underlying lease term for leasehold improvements, whichever is shorter. The estimated useful life by asset description is noted in the following table.
Asset Description
Estimated Useful Life
Office equipment and furniture
3 – 5 years
Leasehold improvements and fixtures
Lesser of estimated useful life or lease term
Depreciation and amortization expense was approximately $272,000 and $245,000 for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. When assets are disposed of, the cost and accumulated depreciation are removed from the accounts with any gain or loss reported in the consolidated statement of operations. Repairs and maintenance are charged to expense as incurred.
The Company reviews property and equipment for impairment to determine if assets are impaired due to obsolescence. As a result of this review, there was no impairment recognized for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017.
Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Long-Lived Assets
The Company reviews its long-lived assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. If such an event or change in circumstances occurs and potential impairment is indicated because the carrying values exceed the estimated future undiscounted cash flows of the asset, the Company will measure the impairment loss as the amount by which the carrying value of the asset exceeds its fair value.
Earnings Per Share, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Loss per Share
Basic net loss per share is computed by dividing net loss by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding. Diluted net loss per share is computed by dividing net loss by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding including the effect of common share equivalents. Diluted net loss per share assumes the issuance of potential dilutive common shares outstanding for the period and adjusts for any changes in income and the repurchase of common shares that would have occurred from the assumed issuance, unless such effect is anti-dilutive. For the years ended 
December 31, 2018
and 2017 net loss attributable to common stockholders included preferred stock dividends of $9.4 million and $6.9
million respectively, related to the deemed dividends for the accretion of the beneficial conversion of Series B and Series A Preferred Shares and accrued dividends for Series A Preferred Shares. Net loss attributable to common stockholders for the year ended December 31, 2018 also includes $2.5 million preferred stock deemed dividends for the recognition of the unamortized discount resulting from the conversion of the 6,562 Series B Preferred Shares. The number of Series B Preferred shares convertible to common stock that were excluded from the computations of net loss per common share and for the year ended December 31, 2018 were 7,966,057. 
The number of options and warrants for the purchase of common stock that were excluded from the computations of net loss per common share and for the year ended December 31, 2018 were 938,982 and 18,915,850, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2017 were 358,975 and 915,138,
respectively because their effect is anti-dilutive.
Research and Development Expense, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Research and Development Costs
The Company expenses research and development costs associated with developmental products not yet approved by the FDA to research and development expense as incurred. Research and development costs consist primarily of license fees (including upfront payments), milestone payments, manufacturing costs, salaries, stock-based compensation and related employee costs, fees paid to consultants and outside service providers for laboratory development, legal expenses resulting from intellectual property prosecution and other expenses relating to the design, development, testing and enhancement of our product candidates. Research and development expenses include external contract research organization (“CRO”) services. The Company makes payments to the CROs based on agreed upon terms and may include payments in advance of study services. The Company reviews and accrues CRO expenses based on services performed and relies on estimates of those costs applicable to the stage of completion of a study as provided by the CRO. Accrued CRO costs are subject to revisions as such studies progress to completion. At December 31, 2018 and 2017 the Company has accrued CRO expenses of $
that are included in accrued expenses. The Company did not have prepaid CRO costs at December 31, 2018 and had
in prepaid CRO cost at December 31, 2017.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 820,
Fair Value Measurement
, define fair values as the amount that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants. As such, fair value is determined based upon assumptions that market participants would use in pricing an asset or liability. Fair value measurements are rated on a three-tier hierarchy as follows:
Level 1 inputs: Quoted prices (unadjusted) for identical assets or liabilities in active markets;
Level 2 inputs: Inputs, other than quoted prices, included in Level 1 that are observable either directly or indirectly; and
Level 3 inputs: Unobservable inputs for which there is little or no market data, which require the reporting entity to develop its own assumptions.
In many cases, a valuation technique used to measure fair value includes inputs from multiple levels of the fair value hierarchy described above. The lowest level of significant input determines the placement of the entire fair value measurement in the hierarchy.
The carrying amounts of the Company’s short-term financial instruments, including cash and cash equivalents, other current assets, accounts payable and accrued liabilities approximate fair value due to the relatively short period to maturity for these instruments.
Cash and cash equivalents include money market accounts of $98,000 as of December 31, 2018 and 2017, that are measured using Level 1 inputs.
The Company uses Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the fair value of the warrants. In using this model, the fair value is determined by applying Level 3 inputs for which there is little or no observable market data, requiring the Company to develop its own assumptions. The assumptions used in calculating the estimated fair value of the warrants represent the Company’s best estimates; however, these estimates involve inherent uncertainties and the application of management judgment. As a result, if factors change and different assumptions are used, the warrant liability and the change in estimated fair value could be materially different.
Stock Based Payment Arrangements [Policy Text Block]
Stock-Based Payment Arrangements
Generally, all forms of stock-based payments, including stock option grants, warrants, restricted stock grants and stock appreciation rights are measured at their fair value on the awards’ grant date typically using the Black-Scholes option pricing model, based on the estimated number of awards that are ultimately expected to vest. Stock-based compensation awards issued to non-employees for services rendered are recorded at either the fair value of the services rendered or the fair value of the stock-based payment, whichever is more readily determinable and are remeasured over the corresponding vesting period. The expense resulting from stock-based payments is recorded in research and development expense or general and administrative expense in the Consolidated Statement of Operations, depending on the nature of the services provided.
Derivatives, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Derivative Instruments
The warrants issued in conjunction with the registered direct offering in October 2014 include a provision that if the Company were to enter into a certain transaction, as defined in the agreement, the warrants would be purchased from the holder at a premium. The warrants issued in conjunction with the public offering of the Company’s securities in November 2016 include a provision, that if the Company were to enter into a certain transaction, as defined in the warrant agreement, the warrants would be purchased from the holder for cash. The provisions of these warrants preclude equity accounting treatment under ASC 815,
Derivatives and Hedging,
Accordingly, the Company is required to record the warrants as liabilities at their fair value upon issuance and re-measure the fair value at each period end with the change in fair value recorded in the Consolidated Statement of Operations. When the warrants are exercised or cancelled, they are reclassified to equity. The Company uses Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the fair value of the warrants.
Income Tax, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Income Taxes
The Company recognizes deferred tax liabilities and assets based on the differences between the financial statement carrying amounts and the tax bases of assets and liabilities, using enacted tax rates in effect in the years the differences are expected to reverse. Deferred income tax benefit (expense) results from the change in net deferred tax assets or deferred tax liabilities. A valuation allowance is recorded when it is more likely than not that some or all deferred tax assets will not be realized.
Management assesses the need to accrue or disclose uncertain tax positions for proposed potential adjustments from various federal and state authorities who regularly audit the Company in the normal course of business. In making these assessments, management must often analyze complex tax laws of multiple jurisdictions. The Company records the related interest expense and penalties, if any, as tax expense in the tax provision. At December 31, 2018 and 2017, the Company did not record any liabilities for uncertain tax positions.
New Accounting Pronouncements, Policy [Policy Text Block]
Recent Accounting Pronouncements and Developments
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-02, 
 (ASU 2016-02) that provides principles for the recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure of leases for both lessees and lessors. ASU 2016-02 requires a lessee to recognize assets and liabilities on the balance sheet for operating leases and changes many key definitions, including the definition of a lease. ASU 2016-02 includes a short-term lease exception for leases with an original term of 12 months or less, in which a lessee can make an accounting policy election not to recognize lease assets and lease liabilities. Lessees will continue to differentiate between finance leases (previously referred to as capital leases) and operating leases, using classification criteria that are substantially similar to the previous guidance. Originally, entities were required to adopt ASU 2016-02 using a modified retrospective transition approach for all leases existing at, or entered into after, the date of initial application. However, in July 2018, the FASB issued ASU 2018-11, 
Leases (Topic 842): Targeted Improvements,
 which now allows entities the option of recognizing the cumulative effect of applying the new standard as an adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings in the year of adoption while continuing to present all prior periods under previous lease accounting guidance. In July 2018, the FASB also issued ASU 2018-10, 
Codification Improvements to Topic 842, Leases, 
which clarifies how to apply certain aspects of ASU 2016-02. ASU 2016-02, ASU 2018-10 and ASU 2018-11 (now commonly referred to as ASC Topic 842 (ASC 842)) is effective for the Company’s fiscal year beginning January 1, 2019. Although early adoption is permitted, the Company has not elected to do so. The Company plans to elect the transition option provided under ASU 2018-11, which will not require adjustments to comparative periods nor require modified disclosures in those comparative periods. Upon adoption, the Company expects to elect the transition package of practical expedients permitted within the new standard, which among other things, allows the carryforward of the historical lease classification. The Company continues to evaluate the impact adoption of this guidance will have on the consolidated financial statements. The Company currently has one material operating lease, which is disclosed in note 7 and has minimum future lease payments of approximately $1.1 million. While the Company has not completed its evaluation of other contracts that may contain lease elements, so far none have been identified. The adoption of ASC 2016-02 will require recording a right-of-use asset and lease liability in the consolidated balance sheet for leases. The right-of-use asset and lease liability are required to be discounted using an appropriate interest rate using either the rate implicit in the lease or the Company’s incremental borrowing rate. The Company is currently finalizing the calculation of the right of use asset and related liability. Beginning in 2019, the Company expects significant changes to its disclosed lease recognition policies and practices, as well as to other related financial statement disclosures due to the adoption of this standard. These revised disclosures will be made in the Company’s first quarterly report in 2019.
In July 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-11, 
Earnings Per Share (Topic 260); Distinguishing Liabilities from Equity (Topic 480); Derivatives and Hedging (Topic 815)
, which changes the classification analysis of certain equity-linked financial instruments (or embedded features) with down round features. When determining whether certain financial instruments should be classified as liabilities or equity instruments, a down round feature no longer precludes equity classification when assessing whether the instrument is indexed to an entity's own stock. ASU 2017-11 also clarifies existing disclosure requirements for equity-classified instruments. As a result, a freestanding equity-linked financial instrument (or embedded conversion option) no longer would be accounted for as a derivative liability at fair value as a result of the existence of a down round feature. For freestanding equity classified financial instruments, ASU 2017-11 requires entities that present earnings per share ("EPS") in accordance with ASC Topic 260 to recognize the effect of the down round feature when it is triggered. That effect is treated as a dividend and as a reduction of income available to common shareholders in basic EPS. The new standard would have become effective for us on January 1, 2019. We early adopted the proposed guidance under ASU 2017-11 for the year ended December 31, 2018, and recognized warrants issued in the fourth quarter of 2018 with a down round feature as equity. No adjustments were required for the retrospective application of this standard.
In June 2018, FASB issued ASU 2018-07, 
Improvements to Nonemployee Share-Based Payment Accounting
, which expands the scope of Topic 718 to include share-based payments issued to nonemployees, and generally aligns the accounting for nonemployee awards with the accounting for employee awards. The ASU is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018, and interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of the adoption of this standard on its consolidated financial statements.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The Tax Act changed many aspects of U.S. corporate income taxation and included reduction of the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, implementation of a territorial tax system and imposition of a tax on deemed repatriated earnings of foreign subsidiaries. The Company recognized the tax effects of the Tax Act in the year ended December 31, 2017 and recorded $21.6 million in tax expense which relates almost entirely to the remeasurement of deferred tax assets to the 21% tax rate. The balance recorded is reduced by the Company’s valuation allowance recorded. Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) No. 740, 
Income Taxes,
 requires the Company to record the effects of a tax law change in the period of enactment. However, shortly after the enactment of the Tax Act, the SEC staff issued Staff Accounting Bulletin (“SAB”) 118, which allows the Company to record a provisional amount when it does not have the necessary information available, prepared, or analyzed in reasonable detail to complete its accounting for the change in the tax law. The measurement period ends when the Company has obtained, prepared and analyzed the information necessary to finalize its accounting, but cannot extend beyond one year.
In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU 2014-09, 
Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606)
, to provide guidance on revenue recognition. ASU 2014-09 requires a company to recognize revenue when it transfers promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the company expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. In doing so, companies will need to use more judgment and make more estimates than under today’s guidance. These may include identifying performance obligations in the contract, estimating the amount of variable consideration to include in the transaction price and allocating the transaction price to each separate performance obligation. 
In August 2015, the FASB issued ASU 2015-14, 
Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Deferral of the Effective Date
, which provided for the adoption of the new standard for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017. Accordingly, ASU 2014-09 is effective for the Company in the first quarter of 2018 and early adoption up to the first quarter of 2017 is permitted. Upon adoption, ASU 2014-09 can be applied retrospectively to all periods presented or only to the most current period presented with the cumulative effect of changes reflected in the opening balance of retained earnings in the most current period presented. The FASB has also issued the following standards which clarify ASU No. 2014-09 and have the same effective date as the original standard:
ASU 2016-10, 
Identifying Performance Obligations and Licensing
 (Topic 606);
ASU 2016-11, 
Revenue Recognition (Topic 605) and Derivatives and Hedging (Topic 815): Rescission of SEC Guidance Because of Accounting Standards Updates 2014-09 and 2014-16 Pursuant to Staff Announcements at the March 3, 2016 EITF Meeting
ASU 2016-12, 
Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Narrow-Scope Improvements and Practical Expedients
ASU 2016-20, 
Technical Correction and Improvements; and
ASU 2016-20, 
Technical correction and improvements to Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers
The Company does not have any revenues or contracts with customers and will need to record revenue in accordance Topic 606 should a revenue generating transaction arise in the future. The Company adopted Topic 606 on January 1, 2018 on modified retrospective basis.