Scientists suggest that drugs, which regulate levels of cholesterol in the blood, may also reduce the risk of dangerous clots.
Researchers reduced the size and stability of blood clots in mice and said the discovery could lead to new drugs, reports the BBC.
The British Heart Foundation said it was an exciting discovery that could result in more effective treatments.
The team at the University of Reading was investigating how clots form and say they were surprised to find that protein, LXR, was involved.
LXR is already known to control levels of cholesterol and drug companies have been targeting it for new treatments.
Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "This exciting discovery shows that drugs which lower cholesterol through targeting LXR protein can also reduce harmful blood clotting - potentially opening up paths towards new, more effective treatments."
The research is published in the journal Blood.