Vacanti describes tissue engineering as, "a scientific discipline dedicated to the generation of new tissue using the principles of engineering in combination with an understanding and application of the biologic sciences."
The PDF of the article is freely available, and an interesting read for those of us who like to peer behind the curtain:
It is my intent in this paper to present a brief historical perspective of the emergence of tissue engineering as a multidisciplinary science and a new field in medicine.
To my knowledge, the first recorded use of the term tissue engineering, as it is currently understood, was in an article entitled, "Functional Organ Replacement: The New Technology of Tissue Engineering," published in Surgical Technology International in 1991.
Although the number of multidisciplinary technologies currently being studied in medicine and the biologic sciences appears to be overwhelming and unrelated, it is my belief that the accumulation of such knowledge will ultimately culminate in the clarification of one central process responsible for the development, repair, and regeneration of any organ system, as well as the mechanism and potential treatment for cancer.
I think this last is optimistic, but defer to the expert. It seems to me that there is no reason to necessarily suppose such a large commonality of function for biological systems within the body - at least at a level that helps to speed the engineering and manipulation of tissue. It would certainly be a very good thing if this were the case. Biochemistry is hugely complex, and the only way we are going to be able to manipulate and manage this complexity in the near future is through the use of algorithms (encoded biologically or otherwise) that map greater complexity to less complex systems that we can understand and manipulate. Examples include the use of stem cells to build tissue for us, or vastly improved bioinformatics technologies.